Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Preserving Your Church and Ministry & Giveaway

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 20•14

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Have you heard about the Faithful Shepherd’s Pastor Conference for pastors, elders, and ministry leaders? P&R and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals are hosting this event May 5th-7th, 2014 at scenic Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island. Speakers Harry Reeder, Ed Welch, Tim Witmer, and Steve Estes will present important messages on revitalizing your church, dealing with the opinions of others, practicing godly responses to angry church members, and successful shepherding. The content sounds helpful and germane for any ministry.

And the great news is that I get to giveaway a free registration that covers the conference and six meals, courtesy of P&R! Accommodations cost extra but are very affordable. Click here to find out more details about this wonderful event. And if you would like to win a free registration for yourself, or maybe for your pastor, elder, or ministry leader, leave me a comment and let me know about your interest. If nothing else, do it for your pastor! What a great opportunity for them! The winner will be announced by April 3rd, so that they will have plenty of time to make arrangements.

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Do Not Neglect to Duguid

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 19•14

This week on Mortification of Spin, Todd, Carl, and I interview author and counselor, Barbara Duguid about her book, Extravagant Grace. Referring to the writings of John Newton, Barbara considers why God still would have us to struggle with sin after our salvation. The thing that I most appreciate about her book is Duguid’s distinguishing between the works that we often identify as good (even if the heart isn’t), verses the good that we do in Christ that doesn’t always look like “sanctifying work” to an outsider. While we strive to fight sin and should always obey God’s Word, we need to be careful not to just settle for outward obedience, but address our unruly, wicked hearts in the process. You can listen to the interview here, and enter to win a copy of Barbara’s book.

And on another note, I’ve recently noticed that it’s getting kind of creepy how much Carl and Todd have in common. Both of them are celebrating birthdays this month. I won’t mention their age, but will say that they were born in the same year as well. Not only that, they married their chivalrous and merciful wives in the same year. Add to that their balding, bitter qualities, along with their tired lack of vision and enthusiasm, and you’d think they might be brothers. But hey, I’m just fooling around. Maybe I shouldn’t get creeped out so easily. Here’s a picture of the two all decked out at their birthday celebration with Larry, the brother whom no one speaks of.

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That You May Know

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 17•14

One of my very favorite sections of Scripture is Luke 24:13-35, about the two disciples encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus and the amazing table fellowship there. I especially like to return to this during the Easter season. As I was reading from there this morning, I found another interesting theme.

Arthur A. Just Jr. has written a fabulous book on the Emmaus encounter called The Ongoing Feast. I have written several reflections that I’ve had while reading it. This morning, I ruminated on this theme of knowing. Just reminds the reader of Luke’s intention for writing his gospel:

Knowledge of the kerygma is set forth as the purpose of the gospel in the prologue of Luke (“that you may know the truth concerning the things which you have been informed”)…The lack of knowledge or understanding is a problem continually confronted by the disciples (Luke 18:34—“they did not grasp what was said”…; and Luke 24:18—“does not know the things that have happened there in these days”…); and the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Luke 19:42—“would that even today you knew the things that make for peace”…; and Luke 19:44—“because you did not know the time of your visitation”…; and the true knowledge of the presence of the risen Christ in their midst that comes to the Emmaus disciples through the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35—“and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread”…). (82-83)

Obviously, we all are familiar with the fact that the two disciples, who were getting the heck out of Dodge, did not recognize Jesus when he approached them. He was considered a stranger. For a time their eyes were kept from identifying Jesus. He asks them about their conversation, and they really think he is an outsider for not knowing the recent events, saying,  “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (24:18, emphasis mine). When they explained how the One that they hoped would be their Redeemer was crucified, and was now reported missing and alive by angels, Christ condescends once more to explain to them how this Redeemer has fulfilled all Scripture.

Think about that! Jesus Christ was walking right beside these two unsuspecting men, telling them how all the Scriptures pointed to him!

As magnificent as it is to have the Sermon on the Mount recorded, I greedily wish I had these words spoken by Christ. I believe that is the job of our pastors every Sunday—to expound how a particular section of Scripture points directly to Christ and his redemptive work, to give us the gospel afresh in each passage of Scripture, revealing our great Savior within the sacred pages of his Word.

The disciples still do not recognize Jesus until they are at the table, where Jesus has now made the move from stranger to host, when he blesses the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them (24:30). Immediately thereafter, Jesus mysteriously vanishes, and the disciples look at one another saying, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (v.32). At this point they are booking it back to Jerusalem, they find the eleven, and share how the Christ was made known to them in the breaking of the bread (v.35).

This theme of knowing Christ in Luke also reminds me of the prayer of Jesus that we have recorded in John 17. In it, Jesus prays, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Knowing God is an eternal matter, and his Word testifies to the Son. Jesus reprimanded the two traveling disciples for not understanding the Scriptures. And yet he graciously condescended, not only in preaching the Word to them, but by ratifying it in the breaking of the bread. They see then that they were the strangers. In a sense, this means of grace is also a proleptic meal, the breaking of the bread representing the breaking in of the new creation, pointing to the eschatological meal that we will enjoy on that great Day of consummation. Our response should be the same as the disciples, being sent out with burning hearts, eager to share our knowledge, and invite others to the table.

Just illustrates how Luke’s theme of knowing reaches its climax in the breaking of the bread. There the eyes of the disciples were opened. This encourages me in anticipation for that Day when all believers will all be joined together at that great feast on the new heavens and new earth, with burning hearts, beholding the beatific vision of the Christ. In the meantime, Christ is opening eyes to see and ears to hear, changing hearts, by these ordinary means of the preached Word and the breaking of bread. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Evangelical Housekeeping

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 14•14

Several years ago, I noticed a pattern in my life.  First, I’d read or hear about a sketchy theological trend. Maybe it would be a certain high-profile preacher, a new book that’s out, or a movement that seems to be threatening to creep into Christian thinking. Whenever this happened, I would think, “No need to worry. I don’t need to waste my time thinking about this, it doesn’t affect me.” I figured it would be easily identified by ordinary, mainstream Christians, and we could all move on with our lives.

And then it would inevitably happen. That same book that I recognized as suspicious is recommended to me by a friend, or a family member even. That pastor that I thought was clearly handling Scripture wrong is being quoted by a mom at the baseball field. Every. time.

Do you think it is important to learn about the latest theological trends? What do they have to do with you? Should your pastor bother to know about the current evangelical climate?

If you have ever struggled with this, or have your own opinion on the matter, follow this link to Reformation21 and read the rest of my article.

A Dangerous Field Trip

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 12•14

What does the cross make you think of? Sugary, sweet, colorful candy? No? Are you sure? Of course you are. Then whycrosssucker would anyone think it is a good idea to make lollipops shaped like a cross? What kind of message does this send to our children? “The crucifixion was delightful. Wrath of God over sin? What? No, God wants you to have a lollipop.” Actually, the message I am getting when I see these is, “You’re a sucker.”

For this week’s Mortification of Spin Bully Pulpit edition, Todd, Carl, and I took a dangerous field trip to the local Christian bookstore. What is being marketed as Christian paraphernalia is pretty scary. Are you going to the park this weekend? Perhaps you should bring flyingdiscyour Jesus frisbee. That way, when you accidentally smack a three-year-old in the head with your bad toss, she can be hit with the gospel message. It’s more than a frisbee, it’s the good news in flight!

And the next time you’re at a party, maybe you should get a little more creative with ways to bring up your faith. I mean intellectual conversation is so passé. And sharing your testimony is getting pretty old too. Since people’s attention spans are really suffering from their internet consumption, images are all the rage. How about a tattoo on your tongue? That way, when you are going to town on the cheese dip, you can also point out your acquaintance’s need for a savior.Title-Bar-Humor-Me

And if all that fails, there’s always toast. I mean, who doesn’t like toast? And we all know what a big deal peoplejesus-toaster-II make when they see a godly image on a sandwich. Now that’s something to stand in line for! Nothing says ‘Jesus is our daily bread’ like this.

There are some wonderful, faithful Christian bookstores out there. But unfortunately, it seems they have become the minority. Have you been to one lately? What ridiculous “Christian” paraphernalia have you encountered? And then there’s the books. What is it that makes them Christian? I remember years ago, it was challenging to find a worthy book to buy. Have you taken a look at the bestseller’s list? It is concerning.

Carl, Todd, and I have a brief conversation about this problem, as well as how it seems many dangerous books are marketed to women. It’s insulting. What can the church do about this? Can pastor’s help their congregation be more discerning? Take a listen here and share your thoughts in the comments.

Also, it is timely that Dr. Fred Zaspel just let me know that his new website venture has finally come to fruition. He is now the editor of Books at a Glance. Take a look, and see how this can be a wonderful resource to introduce you to quality books. There may be an interview with a certain Housewife Theologian over there as well.

Should We Expect More from Our Teenagers?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Mar• 10•14

My oldest daughter was talking to me yesterday about how some of her friends buy their likes on Instagram. Perhaps I didn’t give the most godly answer when I responded, “That is the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard!” Solee explained that they didn’t actually pay for the likes, but they downloaded an app, where in exchange for liking other photos, you get guaranteed likes in return. You build your likes by strategically investing your liking, but there is a limit to how many likes you can give an hour before being charged a fee.

So I went for a more Christian-sounding rejoinder, “What does it reveal about the condition of your heart if you are measuring your value by the number of likes you acquire on a social media site? And as concerning that is, what would ever inspire anyone to solicit fake likes?”

By this time, my middle school daughter joined in, and they both agreed. They started naming names of people that they know who petition for likes in these sketchy ways. What the heck is a like, really? They’re as trivial as you get, and yet, have been turned into a commodity of status. Have likes become a teenager’s source of validation? Is it just teenagers?

I’m afraid not.

Some adults are just as caught up in the game of like. It’s bad enough to see it played out in social media, reality television, and  whatever other means we may use to be liked. But the recent revelation of the debacle in which we have pastors using church money to hire a service to manipulate the system and guarantee their books will make the NY Times best seller’s lists, suggests we’ve reached a whole new sophisticated like. This is what I thought about as my daughters were sharing the reality of the superficial relationships they find themselves in. Where is the hope when we have to wonder about the character of the best-selling pastor?

What’s the integrity in a like? What’s the worth of a 14-year-old with 236 likes? What is the real value of a book on the best seller’s list? And the character of the pastor who wrote it? Or the people buying into the hype? Because there is a message being sold, but it isn’t the gospel.

I told my girls that their meaningfulness will not be measured in likes. As they were walking away, I reminded them, “Smiles are still free!” A simple human gesture that communicates so much more.

And to those who still think that deceiving the public by paying for a best-seller is okay if it gets the gospel into more hands, I would like to remind you that the gospel is still free too. God doesn’t need our help by getting him on some list. Those of us who do write to encourage and instruct in the Christian faith should know that the value of our work won’t be measured in likes. Much of it will be offensive to the popular notions of spiritual health.

We should all want our work to promote the glory of God. A bus driver does that by doing his job well with honor. So does a housewife, a sales rep, and an engineer. If we expect them to glorify God by laboring in their vocation with a smile and genuine concern for their neighbor, then we shouldn’t lower our standards for those who want to teach us from his Word. And if we do, should we expect more from our teenagers?

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.