Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

P&R Author Interview

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 08•14

9781596386655.jpg9781596386655.jpg9781596386655.jpg9781596386655.jpgHousewife TheologianMy publisher, P&R, is running a series of author interviews on their blog. Yesterday was my turn. Here is a sample Housewife Theologianquestion:

  • How do you deal with writer’s block?

52a2502d28e23.preview-300“Oh, let’s see, I usu­ally start with a snack and increase my cof­fee intake. If that doesn’t work, I pick up a jump rope or my nunchucks and try to get my blood flow­ing. I often drum up some good writ­ing ideas when I’m rollerblad­ing or work­ing out. If I’ve still got noth­ing, I move on to call­ing a friend. A good con­ver­sa­tion can usu­ally get my brain mov­ing well again. And, I find that if I am read­ing well, I fre­quently write bet­ter. But some­times I just have to walk away and wait. It’s easy to dis­tract myself by cruis­ing the blogs, and social net­works when I am unpro­duc­tive, but I find that typ­i­cally makes the prob­lem worse. These times are frus­trat­ing, but I think that it serves me well to develop that hunger to write while simul­ta­ne­ously rec­og­niz­ing that it is all a gift that can be taken away. It makes me thank­ful when I get the flow back that God has allowed me this voca­tion. And yet, it puts things in per­spec­tive that I am to be a good stew­ard of it and not place my worth and my value in the writ­ing itself.”

Here’s the link to see more.

 

 

The Truth Isn’t Very Nice

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 07•14

One valuable friend that I have made through the internet is Carol Noren Johnson. She is a 70-year-old Christian wife, faithfully caring for her husband who is suffering through Alzheimer’s Disease. One thing that is so beautiful about Carol is the bluntness of her writing. She doesn’t put on any velvety eloquence, she has no time for sentence enhancers. No, Carol writes in a sort of stream of consciousness—like she is sitting there talking to you.  And she isn’t your typical 70-year old. While caring for her husband, she also substitute teaches in the public schools, alongside of teaching a class for the state of Florida for offenders arrested for drunk driving, is a widow (from her first marriage), and runs a couple of blogs. My favorite factoid about Carol is that she is a rapping grandma. Carol spins up rap lyrics and spits them out to her students to make learning fun. You know that once you hear a 70-year-old woman rap it, you will not forget it!

Through my short blogging years, I have written a few times about how I dislike niceness, and I think you should too. Carol immediately identified with my message. In fact, she let me know that she had written a book called Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill, because of her own struggle in this area. She was kind enough to send me a copy.

The thing about this book is that it isn’t only a book about niceness. It is more of a spiritual memoir of Carol’s life. The theme of niceness, Carol’s battle with it, and lessons learned, are woven throughout the whole piece. Reading this book made me wish that my own grandmothers would write something similar. I would love to have them tell me their history along with identifying some of the biggest sins they struggled with along the way, all to God’s glory. I would treasure it! Maybe you wouldn’t think of niceness as a struggle, or especially a sin. But Carol shows that it is manipulative and unloving. While nice people often like to picture themselves as victims,  they are really seeking a self-glory. Often underneath the veneer of niceness there lies bitterness, jealousy, and a desire to control.

Niceness can often be the enemy to truth. Since the truth is frequently offensive,  we try to dip it in a “nice” makeover before we handle it. And at that point, the truth can be unrecognizable. Carol encourages us to put on kindness and honesty, not niceness.

I’ve recently said on a Mortification of Spin podcast that niceness is the Eddie Haskell of evangelicalism. It’s haskellmanipulating, but not really loving, manners without truth. Have we become more concerned with our expectations of politeness at the expense of truth? I think we all do at times. We think that the opposite of nice is mean. This is not so.  Nice is people-pleasing, and we like to be popular, don’t we? But we need to remember what kind of theologians we are. We are not theologians of our own glory, we are theologians of the cross. Sure, we should be kind-hearted. But don’t confuse over-groomed caricatures who bird-dog esteem with a kind heart.

And so Carol ends her book saying, “The Lord is to be praised for his patience in my life. I have eternity to be grateful. Others don’t have to love me for anything I am or do, but He loves me—of that I am sure” (102).  By following with Ps. 71:17-18, I see that I am one of those whom she has declared Christ’s strength and power in the next generation.

Carol, thanks for persevering. And thank you for what you have taught me about love and life. I’ll see you on the front porch one day, my friend.


What I Learned from the Youngest Person in the Room

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 06•14

I had the honor of being the guest speaker at a women’s retreat last weekend. Given the setting of the retreat, and the four different sessions blocked out for me to speak, I incorporated about a half hour or so after every presentation to break into small groups and answer discussion questions. I actually prefer this sort of interaction over the time that I am standing at a podium talking. I can get an idea of whether I am communicating my content well, and how the women are processing and applying the material. But they aren’t the only ones learning. So am I. And last weekend I learned something from the youngest woman attending the retreat, a college student. I will call her Lottie.

What could it be? Read the rest over at Ref21. And if you have time, please come back and share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Theology Paid Off

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 05•14

There are clarifying experiences in our lives that cause us to put things in perspective. I always try to encourage Christians, and even unbelievers, that theology is very practical to everyday life. What we believe about who God is, what he has done, what he is doing now, and who we are, shapes our everyday behavior. It determines how we handle our ordinary responsibilities, as well as how we will respond and cope with significant successes and terrifying trials. This Mortification of Spin episode is particularly heartening as Carl, Todd, and I had the privilege of talking to pastor, author, and cancer survivor Paul Wolfe.

I was so encouraged by this interview as Paul discusses how his church family was unknowingly preparing him for

"Where everybody knows your name." As you can see, this is when all three of us had better hair.

“Where everybody knows your name.” As you can see, this is when all three of us had better hair.

this trial well before it came. The faithful preaching of his pastor and the covenant community that he was blessed to be a part of provided Paul with the encouragement and exhortation that he needed to hold fast to his confession of hope and continue to run the race that God had laid out for him. The golden line: Theology paid off! You have to take a listen for yourself.

When he heard the news that none of us want to hear, Paul had all he needed already. Our talk also made me think about the church in general. What a blessing God gives us. Along with a context for the sacraments to be administered in a way that we can be assured we are blessed in Christ, we have all sorts of diverse, yet like-minded people to rub shoulders with in the race. Paul shares some of the very practical ways this blessed him in such a difficult time. And it made me think about the types of people I want to be around in both the ordinary and in times of suffering.

Make sure you take the time to visit the Mortification of Spin website here, take a listen, and enter to win a copy of Paul’s book. You can also subscribe to MoS through iTunes.




When God is Most Near

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 03•14
If I oppose the Word I oppose my Lord when he is most near;
If I receive the Word I receive my Lord wherein he is nigh.

This is a line from “Christ the Word,” a prayer found in the Valley of Vision. The collection of Puritan prayers found in this book is so enriching to my personal prayer life.  Sometimes a line causes me to stop and meditate on its meaning a little longer.

Do you ever wish you could be nearer to God? Some leaders tell us that we can do this by being one with nature, or taking a walk in the wilderness to sense God’s presence. Others say it is through particular community services. Some believe that the answer is in a more concentrated effort to remove ourselves from worldly influences. Many advocate more of an emotional response in worship, suggesting we are more connected to God in a rapturous moment. We have books telling us that it’s all about thankfulness, mystical experiences, simplifying our lives, or listening for a special message from the Spirit.

But this prayer says something different. Something so clear, and yet often not what we want to hear. It says that Christ is most near to us in his Word. Our Lord’s nearness is not based on a subjective experience, or how well we show gratitude and service. And it isn’t about making a space for God, as if he can then come reside in the neat area we have allotted for him. No, God’s Word saturates every bit of us. It doesn’t soak in better for those on an organic diet. We don’t need to detox all the chemicals out of our bodies for it to stick. I can oppose Oreo cookies, or I can oppose black bean brownies. But if I oppose the Word, I oppose the Lord when he is most near.

This leads me to ask, since God cared to communicate with us in his Word, and we see in it that Christ is the Word, do you think that we are separated from him not only in the Word that we oppose, but also in the Scriptures we haven’t even bothered to read, study, and receive?

 

John 1:1, Rev. 19:13, Heb. 4:12-13

Instead of Me*

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Feb• 28•14

I was born to young parents—teenagers. But I still had a very stable home and a crib of my own. I was safe and secure. Well, ostensibly anyway. Although I was intimately knit together by God in my mother’s womb, I was born his enemy. I was sinful, unholy, a child of wrath. But God would not leave me that way. Instead of me, his Son was born far from his home with a target on his head.

As I grew, I did not seek him. I looked to what the world could offer for comfort, blessing, and fulfillment. Instead of me, the Son of God stripped himself of his glory to be a man of sorrows. While I sinned greatly to avoid the least of afflictions, he took on the greatest of afflictions to account for my sin, and all those the Father has given him.* This is what he promised to do.

In an eternal covenant the Son of God claimed that he was for me. And I do not remember the day that I turned to him in faith and repentance. In hindsight, I see his fingerprints all over the crime scenes of my life. The evidence says, “Not her, but me.” How is this so?

The day that I deserved, no, the eternity that I deserved under the wrath of God for my wayward rebellion, was satisfied in Christ. And instead of me, he fulfilled all righteousness. Now I am declared “just” because he is just. His holiness exchanges for my sin. His presence in me through his Spirit and the washing of the Word so effectually proclaimed is transforming me into the likeness of the Son. Because of this, instead of me, he was the one who cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

How can I merely say that he stepped in to die on my behalf? No, the life and death of the incarnate Son was not just on my behalf, it was instead of me. And it was instead of the many.

 

*This is a reflection I had while reading David Wells, God in the Whirlwind, particularly this statement, “His death was not simply on behalf of others but it was instead of others. It was in place of the ‘many’” (138).

*From Jeremiah Burroughs, The Evil of Evils: “ That it is a very evil choice for any soul under heaven to choose the least sin rather than the greatest affliction” (2).




Thoroughly Preposterous

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Feb• 26•14

fonzieThe MoS team was issued a challenge this week by one of our listeners. Carl, Todd, and I were asked to provide commentary on the Katie Couric interview with Carl Lentz without using the words utterly or ridiculous. This was quite a challenge indeed. As you will hear, Todd doesn’t do too well, and I get by with a loop-hole. Carl goes into the game with a good strategy. I think he underwent some tough training to replace those two familiar words with some new vocabulary.

If you click on the link above for the interview, you will understand just how difficult our little game was. It seems that the pastor of this New York church plant, which boasts of 6,000 people in its congregation, has an interesting church growth gimmick. I think my picture sums it up well.

Take a listen to the new Mortification of Spin podcast here.

Better to be Wrong in Motive?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Feb• 25•14

I’m talking about this line from Donald Macleod over at Reformation21 today:

“Better to be wrong in the motive and right in the message than wrong in the message and right in the motive.”

Interested? You can read it here.

Offense to the Establishments

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Feb• 24•14

I just finished reading through a great little book by Donald MacLeod  titled From Glory to Golgotha: Controversial Issues in the Life of Christ.  Something that he said in the chapter on “The Crucified God” really stuck out to me. MacLeod breaks down the different implications of Mark 8:34, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The subheading to this section is convicting already: “The cross the test of our lifestyle.” The author reminds the reader that the cross that we bear cannot be the same cross as Christ’s on one hand, and that it is not the mere annoyances and trials that every person faces on the other. But even before this, he makes important point about how we must be willing to be nothing:

For the church, this means an end to all imperialism. The moments when the world shouts Hosannas and scatters palm branches in the path of the people of God (John 12:13) are to be rare and exceptional: and dubious.  The normal attitude will be hatred, contempt, and persecution. When the church finds herself sitting at the top table with the politicians, academics, the sportsmen and the pop-stars, it is virtually certain that she has abandoned the way of the cross. (99)

Of course, it is easy for me at this point to begin pointing fingers and calling for us all to have a little more sense in discerning which Christian leaders we listen to. And this is important and true. But it is a sobering reminder for each and every one of us. After all, we are called to evangelize the nations, having faith that God will add to our number as we fellowship together and devote ourselves to the preached Word and the sacraments (Acts 2:42). While Christ is indeed expanding his kingdom, it is not in a way that we would like to imagine. We are still living in between the ages, in the theology of the cross. We should certainly rejoice whenever anyone becomes a new creation in Christ. And we would like to think how beneficial it would be to the church and the world when someone influential like a celebrity or a politician’s eyes are opened to the truth. The Lord sees fit to do that on occasion. But this is not the way his kingdom will expand. This is not the kind of influence that he has in mind.

No, he calls the outcasts and the strangers into his family, and makes them his bride. He doesn’t summon us to build an empire, to change the education system while convincing the world of his sovereignty, and to clean out the music industry for his glory. He calls us to worship and he calls us to serve. As we love our neighbor, we are not to even let our left hand know what our right hand is doing (Matt. 6:3-4), knowing he will reward us in the new age.  We do our good deeds as a response to who we are. We are Christ’s.

And so we are to empty ourselves. This is easy to say, but hard for my ears to hear. And yet I know what it does to me when I look for the praise of man, when I think I can earn a place at the world’s table and be well-liked. MacLeod’s warning about these moments being dubious is wise. We pray for revival, and we imagine that will mean the spread of Christian thinking in our communities. We envision the popularizers to get on board and promote the good news. What if it means that Christ’s people hold fast to their confession of hope without compromising, no matter what the worldly circumstances are? What if it means we are bold to stand on every bit of his gospel truth, even when it comes with rejection from other professing believers?

We have to keep reminding ourselves that the church is in the community not to lord it over but to serve it: and if the community fails to appreciate us, that is no sign that we are living in a particularly cloudy and dark day. It is only a sign that after the heady days of the 19th century, with their Hosannas! And palm branches, things are now very much back to normal—back to what Christ meant them to be. (101)

And this is where Christ meets us—as the outcasts, the strangers to society. He stripped himself of all the glories of his divinity, and took that place for us. No, praise God that we do not have to take up his cross. But think about how this very cross that we could never bear, a propitiation that we could never accomplish, is how Christ is most glorified. He endured for the joy set before him in glory with the Father. And what he has earned through obedience, he has given to his people. So his pilgrims and his outcasts are actually lights in the world, even though much of the world prefers darkness.


Take Me to Church

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Feb• 21•14

Here’s a little teaser for my latest post on Ref21:

This is the title of a song by the band Hozier. The song is pretty disturbing, and yet it is an enlightening and honest picture of the state of our culture. In one quick listen, it’s pretty clear that “church” is neither Christ’s bride, nor the meeting place of his people for worship. No, church is the self-destructive worship of a person. Church in this song is in the bedroom, and as it turns out, church is more specifically an act of homosexual love.

No, it’s not a really a song that a good Christian girl like me should be singing along to. But the rhythm is pretty darn catchy. The one thing that I respect about this song is its honest depiction of the state of our culture. Love is god. And the order of the words here are very important.  To say that God is love is to say something very different. In the former case, love is however the individual defines it, and is usually attached with a sensual feeling. And this Love must be worshipped. This Love is supposedly what unites. And this Love is what is expected to save.

Of course, we can sneer at this song for its depravity. But I think that we need to be confronted with its message. The lyrics reveal the singer’s turning away from one church to another, “Every Sunday’s getting more bleak.” His lover “giggle’s at a funeral,” revealing a disregard for death and its eternal consequences. This lover laughs at mortality. He’s encouraged to “worship in the bedroom.”

This act of so-called Love is more sacred than the church. Stronger than death.

As disgusted as we may say we are by this message, what if this song is also a cultural expression of much of evangelism?

Read the rest here!