Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Is it just me, or has the whole idea of good critique and constructive criticism these days been snubbed like the awkward, knobby-kneed boy asking for a tweenage diva’s number? It seems that as a society, and even in the evangelical world, all questions, differing opinions, and critique are taken as personal attacks. But isn’t everyone to expect constructive criticism at work here and there?
When I was in college, it was actually a sign of respect for your work to engage in critique. In the many art and writing classes that I took, a third of our grade was based on our ability to properly do this. When our assignments were due, they were displayed before the whole class for a critique session. Talk about a great motivator to not slack on your work! The students were to point out both what they liked about the work and what parts they may think the creator has fallen short. It was to be constructive, both sharpening our skills of discernment and helping the artist improve. We were careful with our words, as we all knew that the artist had invested time into this piece, and was now sitting there in front of the whole class. 
This was a very vulnerable position for the artist, and a sticky situation for the one offering critique. If we were just being nice and giving a velvety critique, our own grade would suffer.
Constructive criticism was a necessary element for our grade in the class and our maturity in the field. As growing artists, we needed to learn how to take critique. We had to learn to listen to our peers and begin the hard work of filtering these educated opinions for the benefit of our work of expression. 
Not all of the critique would be true to the direction we wanted to go with our piece. Which advice do we follow? Maybe we completely disagree with the first criticism offered, only to find out it is the consensus of the majority of the class. In this case, we need to evaluate whether our perception of our own work is delusional. Maybe we are not properly communicating how we intended. From this we needed to decide whether our piece had enough redeeming qualities to improve upon, or whether to abandon that project all together. We began to learn how to listen to criticism without taking it personal. 
This is truly a life-long process. Even the most diplomatic of criticisms is usually hurtful. We weren’t to merely develop thick skin and let it bounce off. We had to really listen and try to grow from it.
It was a humbling process. But nonetheless, I was still in my college-phase, and I learned even in this setting how to get by without really giving my all. Part of it was laziness, and part of it may have been fear. You see, I was decent at art, but there were some amazingly gifted students in that program. I knew that I would never be able to pump something out to their caliber. I mean, it wasn’t like I was an art major. So if I just worked hard enough to get a good critique and grade without embarrassing myself, I could nurture the secret knowledge that I wasn’t giving my all when my work was sitting next to the really great ones.
But my Scottish professor saw through my prideful neglect. He pulled me aside one day during class and said, “Aimee, you are producing ‘A’ work, but I am going to start giving you ‘B’s’. Do you want to know why? Because this is not ‘A’ work for you. I know you can do better. Why aren’t you giving me your best? No matter, you can decide if you’re satisfied with the ‘B’s’. I just wanted you to know that my grading scale has changed with you.” This is one of the greatest pieces of critique I’ve ever received. He read the work to tell him something about the artist. Then he gently pushed back, and asked the questions that I needed to ask myself. Now, how was I going to respond?
In front of class with our own work displayed, we were highly aware that we were critiquing a vulnerable person just like ourselves. Since our work was up there too, we were humbled in our critique of others. Some experiences in life stick stronger with you and continue to work for your growth. This is one of mine that I continually need to remember for both sides of the criticism coin because I so often forget. The exposure my classmates and I had reminds me that everyone is made in the image of God, the Creator. That must always be before me in both my giving and receiving constructive criticism.
We were created to work. But not all work is equal. Many people will produce better work than my own. Thankfully, my work doesn’t determine my standing before God—-the Lord Jesus Christ’s does. This is liberating! I can give my best, and Christ will bless my efforts with his intention for my work. I have the freedom to just lay it out, let others help me improve, and go at it again. God’s standards are high. They are perfect as a matter of fact. On my own, I can never measure up—there is no getting by with good enough. But Jesus Christ made himself vulnerable on our behalf. All of our works of unrighteousness were put on display over 2,000 years ago on a cross. And his perfect work was applied to us. 
Does our work now reflect our grateful response? Do we labor with both humility in ourselves and confidence in the One who is transforming us into his own likeness? He’s the one who took it personal. And he is the one who will personally be the advocate for his people on that last day. For this reason, those who look at our work should be able to see our joy in the artist behind it.
Posted on Monday, March 23, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I love reading biographies of strong women in the faith. Ian Murray provides this in his biography, Amy Carmichael, ‘Beauty for Ashes.’ Some women in the church are truly magnetic. It appears that Carmichael had that combination of delightful disposition, strong convictions, and perseverance that was attractive to friends, family members, and new acquaintances even before her amazing missionary work and accomplishments.
Attractive Personalities
As I was reading about Carmichael’s strong resolve to be a missionary, her amazing work in India rescuing children from the evil horrors of temple prostitution, thereby establishing the Dohnavur Fellowship and providing a Christian home for hundreds of children, I was greatly encouraged by her unwavering love of our Savior. It also made me think about how such dynamic women can use their attractive personalities for the good or the detriment of the faith.
That got me thinking about another Aimee (unfortunately spelled like my name)—Aimee Semple McPherson. While Amy Carmichael established a refuge for abused children, risking her own life and providing gospel nurture and physical care, Aimee Semple McPherson established a whole new denomination and spread the damaging faith-healing movement at her own gain. In doing so, she tore up her family, possibly faked her own kidnapping, and in the end died of a drug overdose.
Beautiful Legacy
Both Amy and Aimee left a legacy. Both of them were even beautiful women.
Posted on Friday, March 20, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
About four years ago, I decided it was time to get more seriously involved in a workout routine. Having been raised in a family that values physical fitness, I have always lived a somewhat active life. However, in my thirties it became apparent that my body was not as obliging to my requests. It was time to get a little more disciplined if I wanted to feel as strong as I did in my twenties. So I did the practical thing for a mother of three: I started buying DVD workouts by experienced trainers. The first workout I did was an hour long. As I was chugging along I thought to myself, “You’re a little winded, Aimee, but you’ve still got it!” 
And then I woke up the next morning. Whoever thought it would hurt so much to go down stairs? And bending, what an arduous task when your muscles are screaming at you! The morning after soreness just told me I needed strengthening, I’m not in my twenties anymore, and the exercise was working. So, even in pain, I kept at it six days a week. 
The Christian life is littered with obstacles. Athletes train for these kinds of things. Have you ever known a professional athlete who trained alone or without a plan? While I might be able to think of some good exercises, I do not have the knowledge of putting together the most beneficial workout routine. And I certainly wouldn’t go for a full hour unless I was being led. Many of the workouts I do combine circuit training and super-sets. I surely wouldn’t have thought of concepts such as combining emphasis on aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems or active rest on my own. But these trainers have a plan for me to follow. 
Often, the routines require each circuit to be repeated. There are many benefits to this. The first time through, my muscles and my brain are being introduced to the form. However, the second time around is even more advantageous. Now I already know the technique. So if I’m told it’s time for the second set of UFCs or sissy squats, I know what in the world that means as well as the technique involved. At this point my muscles are reaching fatigue, and I am told this is good because that is where “the magic happens.” Muscles are being further toned the second time through. This point of muscle fatigue is also the point in the workout where I ask, “Why did I get myself into this?” That’s when I know change is happening. 
Where am I going with all this? Much of our conditioning in the Christian life is hard. As biblical pastors, teachers, and mentors lead us we realize that we aren’t quite as spiritually fit as we thought we were. When we face a challenge or obstacle, we find our strength and stamina are weak. First we have to learn the form. Theology has specialized language just like every other discipline. For my workouts, I need to learn lingo such as skull crushers, spider push-ups, and supination arm extensions. When learning what the Bible teaches about God’s redemptive plan through Jesus Christ there’s all kinds of vocabulary involved such as propitiation, imputation, eschatology, and covenant. Also, in many of our first experiences in trying to live in light of the gospel, we fall on our faces. We are in a continuous battle with sin. But through repentance and prayer, the Lord uses even those times to strengthen us. When we encounter our new vocabulary the second time, we know it and can learn deeper by the use of it. When we encounter a similar temptation over, we are stronger and wiser to turn away. Our trust in the Lord grows as we see how he has been faithful all along. 
There will be many blessings throughout our Christian lives. But there will also be times when we ask ourselves how we got into all this. And sure, there are obvious moments in life where this question is our wisdom talking, telling us we shouldn’t be involved in a particular situation. It is a discerning question. Many times this question comes because we did not properly count the cost. It demands us to estimate the value and purpose of our cause. But make no mistake, we will find that the most valuable things in life bring us to fatigue. That’s when we are toning—during the “burn.” 
 
 
*This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Theological Fitness (P&R)
Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I’m just going to go ahead and embarrass myself here---for the sake of the gospel and all. When I was a sophomore in college, I was heavily convicted that I was not living my life according to who I was---a Christian. But I also realized that I really didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the faith that I professed. I began attending a local church, and I wish I could say that they befriended me and discipled me. I did get the smiley welcome, “Where are you from?” question, but was ignored beyond that.
So the next thing I did was visit the Christian bookstore, The Gospel Shoppe. After perusing the shelves and enjoying the smell of new books, I honed in on the table featuring local authors. There was a book there called The Fruit Bearer. I thought I could probably use some fruit in my life at this point. So I killed two birds with one stone; I bought a book that would support a local author and hopefully help me to be one of those fruitful Christians.
The female author was engaging and motivating. But she also wrote about something that I had never been exposed to---speaking in tongues. As it turns out, according to this friendly author, speaking in tongues was both a blessing and a sign that you are bearing the fruit of the Christian life. I wondered, is this real? I did want to bear fruit. But something didn’t seem right, even for this immature Christian. 
I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. I prayed, asking if this was real, would God grant me this gift, this fruit. I waited. I did all the things this author told me to do, mouth agate, just waiting for God’s holy language to pour out of me. Nothing happened. I felt stupid.
But I didn’t think this is what the Christian life boiled down to. I knew too many good Christians who did not speak in tongues. So instead of pursuing “the gift” any further, I went to Scripture. That book I bought was filled with very poor theology, but it led me to dig deeper into what Scripture said about the topic. It also led me to seek out other authors who wrote about the sufficiency of Scripture.
Has that ever happened to you? Maybe not the embarrass yourself by trying to speak in tongues thing, but have you ever read a so-called Christian book that raised some red flags and then led you to study God’s Word more on the issue?
It has happened to me on many occasions. And in that way, I see how God uses even irresponsible, errant books labeled as Christian, to spur his people to learn and value good theology.
In a sense, this is how we have the Christian creeds and confessions that we hold dear today. Along with giving Christians a vocabulary to articulate biblical truths, many of the creeds were written in response to heretical teachings. False teaching will always be with us on this side of the resurrection (2 Pet. 2:1). While I adamantly oppose false teaching and I am continuously disgusted by bestselling books that infect the church, I am thankful that God in his wisdom and goodness even uses bad theology to spur his people further to the truth.
When people ask me about whether a popular book they are hearing about is biblically sound, I am of course going to share any knowledge I may have about that. I also think that it’s important to offer critical reviews that can be helpful for potential readers to discern a book’s content. But when someone is eagerly reading these books that I would rather burn, I try to ask questions that will lead them to Scripture for further investigating. Maybe God will use that as a springboard to spur the reader to the truth. I am thankful he has done that with me more than once.
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
This book is long overdue.
I have never suffered through the tragedy of a miscarriage, but a number of women I love have. I am so glad that Jessalyn Hutto has written a book for all those who have been affected by the loss of an unborn child. Her goal is to help the reader “see the unique trial of miscarriage within the broader context of God’s plan” (86).
CruciformPress is a great publisher for this kind of book. They publish short, concise books that are around 100 pages on important topics facing the church today. I find that I often recommend their books as a “gateway” for those who aren’t typically readers because CruciformPress books are attractive, trustworthy, and unintimidating. And I would think the last thing you would want to give a woman grieving the loss of her unborn child is an academic tome to try and explain away their pain.
Hutto does no such thing. In fact, she wants to confirm how tragic miscarriage is. “Few people understand the pain a woman feels when she learns that he unborn baby has died” (51). Jessalyn Hutto does. She shares her own experience of two miscarriages and offers the reader the fruit that has come from her pain.
Miscarriage shouldn’t be. Something has gone horribly wrong. And so Hutto begins the book with the very real pain that may feel impossible to bear. She says something very wise about coping with this pain: “Women don’t need empty platitudes or frivolous advice when their babies die: they need God and his Word!” (12). So that is what Hutto gives. It always amazes me how often we need to go back to Genesis with the deep questions in life, and it is no different with a miscarriage. Hutto takes the reader there, explaining, “The Bible gives us the only satisfactory explanation for the existence of such tragedies and our natural inclinations to grieve them” (19). 
In this little book, Hutto also addresses the difficulty of trusting God’s goodness and even embracing God’s sovereignty when your own child’s life is taken from your womb. Your theology, what you know to be true about God, will direct the way you respond in tragedy. And so she affirms from Scripture the goodness, the loving kindness, and absolute power of our God in all circumstances. And she points the reader to Jesus Christ, who is “no stranger to suffering” (55). With a beautiful presentation of the gospel, Hutto gives “three ways in which Jesus can relate to---and therefore perfectly comfort---the woman who has miscarried” (59). I don’t want to sum these up in a short review, because I think it is more meaningful to read through Hutto’s offering here in the context of the whole chapter and book. 
Maybe you had a little gut-check when I mentioned the fruit that has come from Hutto’s pain. This book is certainly a fruit that will help many, but the author insists that God will produce good even out of miscarriage. The death of an unborn child is not random and “sorrow isn’t without purpose” (82). She reminds the reader that “we do have the joy of knowing that we do not suffer for a moment outside of our God’s loving and perfect will” (70). And again, Hutto gives us the theology of who our God is, before applying it with some noticeable ways the Lord may be using even miscarriage for the spiritual good of his people.
Hutto explains that the title of her book comes from a devotion from Susannah Spurgeon. Mrs. Spurgeon “proposed that ‘tears are the inheritance of the earth’s children’ because, as Romans 3:23 informs us, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Any woman whose womb has been visited by death and has had to say goodbye to her precious baby can readily accept Mrs. Spurgeon’s poetic phrasing” (21). But Hutto assures us that we are not left in despair. And neither does Mrs. Spurgeon’s devotion: “’Tears may, and must come, but if they gather in the eyes that are constantly looking up to [God] and heaven, they will glisten with the brightness of coming glory’” (33).
You may pick up this book with a devastating experience in our inheritance of tears. Hutto makes sure to acknowledge those tears, but doesn’t leave you there. She points you to the One who works even through our own tears so that they will glisten with the brightness of his coming glory.
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Conclusions can often be unimpressive. But this is not the case in Carl Trueman’s latest book, Luther on the Christian Life. One thing that stuck out to me while I was reading this excellent book was that there is a lot of Carl in this biography on Luther. You can sense the enjoyment it was for him to write it. He opens with a Meatloaf quote, gets to talk about constipation, con”trov”asy, pubs, pastoral presence, and I think I remember him even throwing his own dog’s name in there somewhere. It seems Luther’s personality brings out Carl’s personality. 
And this is especially the case when he writes about Luther’s wit and humor. In his conclusion, “Life as Tragedy, Life as Comedy,” Carl gives us a theological apologetic for a robust sense of humor as we find in Luther. Here is an excerpt: 
 
And this leads me to my last thoughts on Luther. One of the most striking things about the man is his sense of humor, and one cannot possibly write a book on his understanding of the Christian life without reference to this. In general terms, of course, Protestant theologians have not been renowned for their wit, and Protestant theology has not been distinguished by its laughter. Yet Luther laughed all the time, whether poking fun at himself, at Katie, at his colleagues, or indeed at his countless and ever increasing number of enemies. Humor was a large part of what helped to make him so human and accessible. And in a world where everyone always seems to be “hurt” by something someone has said or offended by this or that, Luther’s robust mockery of pretension and pomposity is a remarkable theological contribution in itself.
Humor, of course, has numerous functions. It is in part a survival mechanism. Mocking danger and laughing in the face of tragedy are proven ways of coping with hard and difficult situations. Undoubtedly, this played a significant role in Luther’s own penchant for poking fun. Yet I think there is probably a theological reason for Luther’s laughter too. Humor often plays on the absurd, and Luther knew that this fallen world was not as it was designed to be and futile in most significant and powerful way.
Thus, he knew that life is tragic. It is full of sound and fury. It is marked by pain and frustration. The strength of youth must eventually fade into the weakness of old age and finally end in the grave. We believe ourselves to be special, to be transcendent, to be unique and irreplaceable. And yet the one great lesson that everyone must ultimately learn in life is that they are none of these things, however much we want them to be true and however much we do things to trick ourselves into believing our own propaganda. We are fallen, finite, and mortal. We are not God. And because God is and has acted, because in incarnation, Word, and sacrament he has revealed and given himself and has thus pointed to the true meaning of life, our own pretensions to greatness are shown to be nothing but the perilous grandstanding of the absurdly pompous and the pompously absurd. (198-199)
 
I find that Trueman always shines when he’s telling us that we are not as special as we think we are. He has a brilliant way of putting us in our place while making us thankful to be there. I think he has that in common with Luther.
Posted on Tuesday, March 03, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
At my last speaking engagement, I had a Pinterest-worthy basket of goodies waiting for me in my room. I could tell that the women who put it together had researched my taste a little bit. There was a cute bag of granola by “Mama Bird,” a tin can of Jittery Joe's coffee (The Freudian Drip), Trader Joe's chocolate, along with some other cool stuff. And in my little mini fridge, there was a mixed six-pack of assorted drinks: iced coffee, soda, a German beer, and a hard cider.
So when I rolled back into my room around 10:00 PM, after a great evening of meeting, dining with, and speaking for a wonderful group of women, I thought that beer sounded like a great way to unwind. Except there was a problem: I didn’t have a bottle-opener. But I wasn’t going to let something like that stop me. I did what every self-respecting, thirsty, determined person would do---I went to Google. There had to be some trick for opening a bottle cap. My search led me to askmen.com. Sure, I was at a women’s retreat, but this is where my evening was ironically ending. 
As it turns out, the most popular method is to use a key to pry open the top. I thought that sounded easy enough. Except there was another problem. My husband drove me to the airport and I had a lovely woman chauffeuring me around for the retreat. I had no keys.
What to do, what to do…
I scanned my suite, wondering what MacGyver would do at a time like this. And then I remembered something awesome, even providential, that was in my gift basket: The Giving Key. That’s right,  a cute little canvas bag was holding a key on a necklace chain. The word “grace” was engraved on one side, and there was a tag that read:
Give this key away to someone when they need it more than you---then blog your story at THEGIVINGKEYS.COM. 
That was me! I was in need! And I was providentially given this key the very night that I needed it. I pulled out that blessed key from it’s canvas bag, and proceeded to pry open my beer like a boss. I drank that baby with a whole new sense of satisfaction. And I saved the bottle cap.
I went over to The Giving Keys website to share my story and read this:
Written Story Submissions (This is where you write your story and make us cry).
As meaningful as my story is, I’m not sure this is what they have in mind. But my story needed to be shared all the same.
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
The MoS gang is once again gathering together in my hometown today to do a batch of recordings. Aside from hearing Carl repeatedly pronounce Maryland wrong, I am looking forward to what we have lined up for the day. One of our topics for discussion is the excellent commentary on Job by Christopher Ash.
Ash articulates the question that Job is stewing with and that God responds to in his first speech. It is a question that we all face throughout life: Do we live in a well-run world? 
Even though I theologically know the answer to this and I wouldn’t dare want to utter that question, I have to continually remind myself what I know to be true about God when things do not seem to confirm it. How can the world be well-run when a mom in her prime dies of cancer, leaving her family to ache in darkness? How can a world be well-run when a 17-year-old, Christian young woman crashes into a school bus, immediately leaving her parents and community to mourn her death? It wasn’t drunk driving. It wasn’t even texting and driving. Yet she was distracted. How can a world be well-run when a seventh-grader unexpectedly goes into cardiac arrest and isn’t strong enough to make it? 
And even on a smaller, everyday-life scale I am still confronted with this question. I make plans---pretty good plans. And yet providence of bad weather (“an act of God”) can close a whole airport down, rendering my well-ordered plans into chaos. How can a world be well-run when I need to fly from Atlanta to Cincinnati, with a sketchy layover, to then get to DC?? How does that make any sense? My flying time is doubled and I may not even make that second plane. Well-run??!! I’m a mom with a plan, ready to happily join my family in worship after a great two days with women who love the Lord! Should I be punished for trying to do good?
I wanted what was good---to worship with my family in my local covenant community. Except my stupid flight was cancelled. And to top it off, just to make things more dramatic, my cell phone dies and my charger does too---the night before travel. 
But God is there. I pray knowing God is there, and that he is sustaining me in all things. And I think, how dare I pray for cell phone power and connecting flights when my neighbor just died of cancer? Who cares if I’m stranded in Cincinnati? Who cares if I miss a night of sleep over stupid travel anxiety? There are more important problems in the world to be solved. There are families truly hurting. 
And there is a God who is in control.
We live in a well-run world. We do. We do because it is run by a good God. The God. And he is good. Only faith sees this because in our sinful nature, we have our own ideas about what is good and who is good. There is one source of good. 
Oh, he is Good! If we could hold fast to this truth, we would live in such wisdom and peace. And yet we want to hold the power of deciding good. 
But because God is good, and because of his great love for his people, he will not let us have that word. His Word is much better. And it commands the water into position. It controls the darkest places that we cannot fathom. It is the source of true light. It puts the angelic stars in motion. And it made an oath for the salvation of his beloved.
How beautiful is the wisdom and the Word of God! How wonderful is his goodness! While we think we are amidst chaos, he knows that this world is well-run. And he continues forever according to his goodness. 
No, nothing is random. God does not miss a thing. He does not react or concoct. He knows. He is sovereign. And he is good.
And his rule is good, all the time. All the time.
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

This week's MoS podcast is about Sunday. Well that reminded me of the cool table. I wrote it a couple of years ago, but it's a reflection from one of my favorite books:

You know what I’m talking about—the coveted table. The exclusive table. Maybe there was a time in your life (hopefully not past middle or high school) that you measured your own status by whether or not you sat amongst the cool. Although, it’s not like the food was any different at the cool table. Maybe you’ve wondered about what cool people talk about. I guess sometimes the quality of cool conversation can rise above some. They get to talk about those exclusive parties that promote their eminence. But that’s neither here nor there. Maybe we can credit those at the cool table with a better propensity for style. At the very least, the coveted table looked cool. They have that down to an art.

Perhaps even though you didn’t sit at the cool table, you prided yourself with the notion that at least you didn’t sit at that other table—the loser table full of misfits. Well, that’s the table where Jesus usually took his seat. In The Ongoing Feast, Arthur Just Jr. quotes R. Karris saying, “…in Luke’s Gospel Jesus got himself crucified by the way he ate” (128). Who you ate with was an even bigger deal to the Jerusalem society than it is now for us. It went beyond social status to one of righteousness. In order to sit amongst the righteous, there was a very rigorous, “detailed description of those considered to be ethnically pure Israelites according to the lines of descent based on genealogies of Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Chronicles. The purpose of this was to determine who was worthy to engage in table fellowship with them. Anyone not worthy of commensalism was considered a sinner, and the categories of sinner were long and detailed” (132).

Imagine the uproar then when Jesus is spotted supping with Levi, the tax collector. Jesus was very inclusive in his table fellowship. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2). It seems that if Jesus wasn’t eating and drinking with sinners, he was talking about eating and drinking through parables. Food and table fellowship are a major theme in Luke. That’s because there really is meaning attached to who we eat with.

We see in Scripture that Jesus ascribes much more to a meal than refueling. “Meals are a prime symbol of election, forgiveness, and eschatological blessing…” (140). Who did this guy think he was, God? Well, yes.

Right now, Christ’s table is inclusive. The invitation goes out to all sinners, misfits, and dejected. What does this imply concerning our attitude toward those we sup with? Just as biblical times, table fellowship now insinuates “peace, trust,… (and) sharing one’s life” (133).

Christ used table fellowship as one of his major means of teaching. He communicated his death, resurrection, and the new age to come. And on that great day when our Lord returns, we look forward to the best feast of all. This is the table that we should aspire to be seated. And this table is exclusive. It is only for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for their righteousness. He has paid the highest cost for this supper, his own blood, all to invite us to the table.

Until then, we are called to the table fellowship of the Lord’s Supper, where ordinary bread and wine become a means of grace to convey the benefits of his death and resurrection. It is an eschatological meal amongst fellow redeemed sinners and confessors of Christ. The future breaks into the present, the age to come breaks in to these last days. God’s promises of the reality of the new creation are ratified in this meal.

Maybe you’ve been longing to be invited to some other meal, some other exclusive table. Let me encourage you that the King is summoning a people to his table. Just as when he was walking this earth, it may appear to the world that we are being invited by a rejected Savior to a table full of outcasts. It certainly looks odd that we now feast on our Savior's body and blood. But because of his body and blood, there will come a day when we are invited to the great feast, in which Christ is the host. “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9). And trust me, the food at this table will be amazing.

Here are some other articles that came from this book: Proleptic Meals, Hold the Bread, An Old-School Mediated Device, The First Thing We Will DoEschatological Feasting

 

Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I consider Luma Simms a friend. We aren’t close in the sense that we keep tabs on everyday life kind of stuff, but we have met in person, we have communicated online, and we have even talked on the phone about some pretty deep matters in the Christian life. So it saddened me to see that she has converted to Roman Catholicism. I did ask her about this surprise, and Luma graciously responded. 
Since then, she has written some interesting articles that have perplexed me a bit. Her most recent, Why I Wear A Mantilla, had me asking some more questions. Although my correspondence with Luma is infrequent, I do consider this a friendly response.
In her article for First Things, Luma opens saying that one of the reasons that she converted to Roman Catholicism was so she could wear a mantilla. She states, “The mantilla is a lace veil women have worn over their heads while worshipping God since the time of the New Testament Church.” But was it? While women did wear head coverings in the New Testament Church, the mantilla is a more recent, fashionable custom that originated from Spain and seems to have made its way into the west around the 1960’s. Women in the New Testament church were not wearing lace. 
I do not believe that 1 Cor. 11:1-16 indicates that women today should wear head coverings in worship. Here is a good answer from the OPC website that offers several reasons why. And Luma does point out that the Catholic Church does not require women to wear a mantilla in worship, that it is not something she “has” to do, but rather something she “gets” to do. And she encourages other women to join her in this because it sends a message of our femininity. She asserts, “the covered head says, ‘this is a woman.’” 
Does it?
Well, I guess it may in the sense that I’m not likely going to see a man worshipping with a mantilla (I know, it’s ironic that it’s called mantilla). But I do not believe I need to add something extra to display my femininity. And that is what I find odd about this argument. Luma laments with Neil Postman that our culture is now more image-centered than word-centered. And then she encourages us to wear a mantilla as a “visual expression of distinction between men and women.” Why would we add another image to express our womanhood? Why add to the image-centered proclivity?
And as she suggests, does my uncovered head exclaim, “this is a man”? No, of course not. A head covering does not have the same significance that it did in Paul’s time, and I don’t think a mantilla in particular has anything to do with my identity as a female or with resisting the rampant feminism of our time. And yet Luma believes the mantilla is both a statement and a righteous weapon for women in the church: 
What area of life can be more foundational to rebuilding culture than the mass? And the most beautiful symbol of this complementarity on display during the mass is the mantilla.
I defy the sexual revolution and its destructive consequences. I fight it with every weapon it is righteous and Christ-honoring to use. I fight it with my mantilla.
Of course, as a Protestant I have much to disagree with here. But this argument reminded me of another recent article from Luma explaining that she was glad as a divorced and remarried woman that the Roman Catholic Church would not allow her to participate in Communion (she is currently pursuing a Decree of Nullity). 
I would say one of the most beautiful symbols of the complementarity on display is when a pastor administers Communion. The Lord’s Supper pictures our head, Jesus Christ, nourishing his bride with his own body and blood until he returns. It also points to the great feast we will have on that approaching day. Here we have the Word preached, followed by the sign and the seal of that good news proclaimed. 
But Luma is now excluded. Maybe a mantilla makes my friend feel more included in the worship service, I don’t know. 
Like Luma, I also defy the sexual revolution and its destructive consequences. But I do not see the mantilla as a righteous weapon in that cause. I “get to” participate in the ordinary means of grace that God has promised to convey Christ and all his blessings to me in worship. 
The mantilla does indeed make a statement. But I think it is a statement that identifies Luma with the contemporary Roman Catholic Church over any kind of statement of the complementarity on display, or as a righteous weapon against the sexual revolution. And I do believe the mantilla is quite fashionable