Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I am meeting up with Todd and Carl this Tuesday and Wednesday at Westminster Theological Seminary to particiapte on a panel discussion with Dr. R. Kent Hughes for the 2014 Pastor's Conference. I'm honored that WTS invites a housewife's perspective into the discussion. But it all got me thinking about how far the three of us have come. In case you have ever wondered about how a reasonably sensible housewife like me wound up dealing with the likes of Carl and Todd, here is a little flashback of how it all began. As you can see, the guys didn't go far with their aspirations to be cage fighters. Todd used to have quite a head of hair though. The poor guy is making less and less visits to the Cut and Coral. He's put on a few pounds, but he does still enjoy wearing horse decals on his shirts. As it turns out, I am the one with the nunchuck skills. Carl has since ditched the glasses, but no longer loves technology like he used to. His insult about my mother is rather ironic given this week's events. 

Stay tuned to The Mortification of Spin to hear a future podcast recording of the panel discussion.

What do you think, should I bring my nunchucks to our glam shots photo session?


Posted on Friday, October 17, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
My cohorts and I have been reading through Todd M. Brenneman’s Homespun Gospel for a future podcast. So the recent book review of it over at 9 Marks was interesting to me. Matt McCullough does some interacting with the book. The premise of Homespun is that sentimentality has triumphed as the primary language in contemporary American evangelicalism over doctrine and scholars need to recognize this change.
Brenneman demonstrates his case by examining the work of three mega-church pastors and best-selling authors: Max Lucado, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen. “The writers tell of a God who is infatuated with human beings and who desires to know the intimate details of an individual’s existence while at the same craving the same type of affection in return.” These authors command a certain type authority through the use of emotion and sentimentality over doctrine, to the point where “A variety of media outlets are often interested in their views on current spiritual crisis and climates…It is not theologians or seminary professors who are making the most impact in evangelicalism. It is these personable ministers who have cultivated publishing and product empires through their emotional appeals” (2-3).
While McCullough concedes that yes, sentimentality is certainly a powerful factor that we need to take seriously, he is not convinced that it has affected evangelicalism to the extent that Brenneman describes in his book. He pushes back saying:
There's no doubting Lucado, Warren, and Osteen have a wide-ranging influence. But there is a large and growing segment of evangelicalism in which these figures and their marketing empires are more often the butt of bad jokes than taken very seriously. Their books aren't read. Their methods aren't followed. Their rhetorical style comes off kitschy and foreign.
I don’t think Brenneman’s claims can be brushed off so easily. Does the term “best-seller” mean anything? I think it means a lot of people are reading their books. And they aren’t professing unbelievers; they are professing evangelicals. These books are read like crazy, and unfortunately, by many people who are in the so-called circles that should know better. How many theology books are best sellers (without the help of ehem, scandalous methods)? Should we compare the sales of say, Dennis Johnson’s commentary on Revelation to Heaven is for Real and the Left Behind series? Speaking as a housewife from the pew who loves to talk with my fellow Christians about theology and discuss what we are reading, I can affirm that this is indeed a real problem even in Reformed circles. 
Sure, I think Brenneman needed to qualify some of his critique a little more so that it wouldn't be taken defensively. And McCullough does something in his review that I think would have been a great addition to the book. He breaks down the helpfulness and the dangers of sentimentality. The reviewer asked what we are to do with sentimentality, and I was hoping the author would cover that. It does have some function.
My critique of the book isn’t that the author argues that evangelicals are too sentimental and not concerned enough with doctrine and intellectual arguments. I’m more perplexed about the audience he is aiming for. Unfortunately, in order to appeal to the crowd that is reading these best-sellers, Brenneman needed to write in a more popular level style (and not in a hard back that costs $27.95!). So, the people who already think that evangelicals are over-sentimental and that we need to discuss actual theology more may read it (if we are willing to sacrifice the cost of a bottle of whiskey to buy it), but the sentimental, Lucado-readers are certainly not going to invest in it.
And if Brenneman is writing to those who are trying to communicate intellectually to a crowd who is tuning out, he makes a good case that their means of communicating are falling on many deaf ears (like his own book would to the same crowd). But, the author gives no helpful suggestions on how to resolve this communication barrier. What do we do to build up the theological stamina of evangelicalism?
There’s plenty more to discuss about this book. What do you think, are evangelicals too sentimental?
Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian


When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, Vicki Tiede  (New Growth Press, 2012)

I saw that Tim Challies has highlighted that Vicki Tiede's book is available for free today on Kindle. I posted this review when it was first published two years ago and thought it would be a good idea to repost for those of you who may be wondering about it now that it is free!

Talk about a loaded title! Perhaps it is a bit of an uncomfortable subject, but I was looking forward to having this resource for my church library. While I’m glad to see more and more resources available for men who struggle with sexual sin, their suffering wives have not had much available to them. And I have had more friends than I’d like to number who have been in this painful struggle--When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography. Of course, the gospel can minister to even this tragedy, but I was eager to have a resource to share.

First I want to say that I really appreciated the clarity in the introduction. The book is not a manual on how to fix your husband. It is also more specifically geared for encountering the first level of sexual addiction, which is pornography (and acts associated with it). While Tiede does address affairs and other forms of sexual perversion in the book, her main aim is to minister specifically to the women of her title. This was an emotional read for me. I seriously had a bit of a breakdown about 25% of the way through the book because Tiede really touches on the pain that these women go through. She can identify with them because she went through it herself. In addition, the book is peppered with quotes from numerous women whom she has interviewed. Their words reveal the raw anguish a woman goes through in this trial, along with true hope in Christ. The loss of trust, the fear, lies, wrestling with constant suspicion, and rejection are but a few of the topics addressed in this book. It is pretty heavy. But someone experiencing these very heartaches in their marriage will be comforted to hear from others who have been through similar experiences, and can point them to the One Comfort that they will always have—Christ is with us in our joy and in our pain. He is sufficient. By pointing the reader to their greater need, Vickie Teide is able to show that this trial can produce a good kind of suffering:

Good suffering…reduces you to a point of being completely ineffective in your own efforts and old patterns of coping and requires dependence on God (29). When the thing you desire more than anything else is to be close to God, you won’t place demands on your husband to meet your needs (30).

She reminds the reader over and over that her husband’s choices do not affect God’s ability to meet her needs.  God is the one who we place our trust in above all, and he is faithful. Tiede also delivers some hard words in love. Dealing with a husband caught in such a serious sin can cause a wife to become self-righteous. I loved her illustration of trials being like a magnified mirror into our own hearts. Often our own sinful hearts are revealed when we are sinned against. The reader is gently nudged:

It might be very difficult to admit this, but if your husband has taken responsibility for his addiction and has shown sincere remorse, he may be better able to walk in freedom from his pornography addiction than from your disapproval and judgment. I’m just asking you to think about it (193-194).

So in many ways, I found this book helpful for a friend or a counselor who would want to better understand what their suffering friend may be going through. It also would be beneficial for husbands to really see the consequences of this sin. I can’t imagine how difficult this book was to write. Tiede does a great job relating to the reader, while not demonizing or even demeaning offending men. Her tone is more like a friend helping you grieve and grow through the process, rather than give you all the answers. These are all great strengths. But I did find myself having some imaginary conversations with the author while reading. I don’t want to come off as a theological curmudgeon, because I appreciate the intent and passion of this author and the labor of love that is evident in her book. But I want to be honest with some caveats. While The Message may be helpful as a commentary for some, I cringe when it is actually used as a Bible translation. It’s used at least four times in the book. Here is one example where I think it clearly effects the meaning of the passage:

Matthew 5:1–4 in The Message paints a beautiful picture of Jesus’ message to you as you grieve your losses: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you” (23).

The beatitudes are not about Jesus’ message to me as I grieve my losses, but rather the beatific vision of Christ himself. While the above “translation” may have a good message, I think it takes away the power of Christ being the One who was truly poor in Spirit and in mourning on the count of our sin. Of course, because we are in Christ, we can then be called to these beatitutes. There were some more instances where I felt like the focus was more subjective and inward rather than focusing on Christ’s work on our behalf. Sometimes the reader is asked to listen to God in prayer and record the truths that he brings to her heart. While the Holy Spirit surely leads us, I would want to teach from what we can objectively say from the authority of God’s Word in Scripture. The heart can be deceitful, especially in a time of suffering like this. It can trick us into thinking we are hearing something from God that may really be our own sinful desires. God’s Word in Scripture is sufficient to thoroughly equip us for our sanctification.

Also, I struggle with the whole admonition to “surrender” things to the Lord. While I know that it is important not to try to control things on our own, which is what I think most mean when they say this, it can sound like another subjective area of obedience. How do we know when we’ve really surrendered enough? If I say that I surrender my anger to the Lord, and tomorrow I get angry again, what did I surrender before? You see, this language is placing me as the giver instead of the receiver of grace. So in her chapter on surrender, Tiede encourages the reader to surrender their guilt, control, fear, and anger to the Lord—to “release” it and “let go.” That’s the prayer we are encouraged to make. But I wished she would have emphasized more (because she does at different points in the book) here about how God dealt with these through Christ on the cross. The balloon analogy she gives of letting go and not holding onto the string to pull it back gives the picture of our fears and anger just floating away. But I know from other parts of the book that Tiede would agree that Christ took them to the cross, and our holding onto any control is an illusion in the first place.

I also was nodding and shaking my head at the same time while I was reading the chapter on forgiveness. For example, I was saying “right on” when I read lines like “Trust is earned by a man’s character, but forgiveness is given because of God’s character” (224). But then I didn’t quite align with her warning not to forgive too quickly. In Scripture we are told to forgive, period (Luke 17:3-4). Jesus didn’t tell us to sleep on it, but to forgive seven times in one day if that’s the case. Tiede goes into making sure that your husband is sincere in his repentance, but how can we really know this? Forgiveness doesn’t mean that there are no consequences, but it is recognizing that the offender does not personally owe us justice. God is the avenger. She urges the reader to ask Jesus to tell us when to forgive, but he already did in Scripture. Yet Tiede ends that whole section with a great question, “Would you rather remember this season of suffering and renewal as one marked by all the great things you have done or all the great things God has done?” (258). So I was nodding and questioning throughout that chapter.

The book ends with two appendixes. The first is a fantastic list of resources from the internet, counseling and support groups, workshops, and internet filters. The second addresses the subject of when your church is not behind you. It stinks this even has to be addressed, but I’m glad that she does. What I would really like to see is the church stepping in and stepping up here. Tiede gives statics of one survey showing 50% of professing Christian men and 20% of professing Christian women having an addiction to pornography. I did look up that source and found it to only be a survey of 1,000 people. While it may not be a credible indicator of the church as a whole, it does show a real problem. This could be a whole other book, because I would like to see women mostly encouraged to be under the means of grace and Christian family which Christ has ordained to sanctify his people. As a church, we need to be better equipped to not only counsel families in this situation, but present the picture of Christ and his church that marriage is to point. After all, it isn't the wife or the children whom a cheating husband has offended most, but Christ himself, whom he is supposed to represent. That is why divorce is so violent (Malachi 2:16). I am thankful that Vickie Teide has added much to this conversation, and pray that her book will be a blessing to those who are suffering. I also am encouraged and equipped to be a better friend to those who are. 

Posted on Sunday, October 12, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I remember the time. I remember it well. This girl was selected for the fashion page in my first year of high school. Yep, picture in the yearbook. That’s me in the mustard skirt, representing the girls in the Freshman class.
This is a reputation I took seriously. I didn’t want to be like all the others--- you know, those who wore what the mannequins in the store were displaying in the window. No, I needed to be ahead of the mannequins. And the poseurs. Cutting edge. Look at me.
And yet I still fell for the same, old shtick as the others. In high school, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a second hand store. But in college, it was revolutionary. Embracing the poverty of student living, I enjoyed the hunt through second hand clothing, and treasured a good find, as well as the admirers of my one-of-a-kind steal. I was cutting edge cool. But my best piece was a jacket that my grandma saved from my dad’s middle school years. I claimed it for my own and was stopped by strangers asking where they could buy it all the time. “Oh this thing? Sorry, this was my dad’s back in the day. Can’t find it anywhere now” (smiling inside because you’re not as cool as me).
Until about ten years later, when I was way past that stage. You know, I was now shopping Banana Republic Outlet. That’s when I realized that some of my younger acquaintances were thinking they were cutting edge by (wait for it…) second hand shopping. They looked just like I did ten (okay, maybe 15) years ago. Who did they think they were? They weren’t cool; they were mere imitators. The college look. They thought they were being different, but they were the same. (But for the record, my dad’s coats are still cool, and I’ve acquired a collection of his and my grandpa’s. Total score.)
Why am I sharing all this on a website that is supposed to be about theology? Well, there are certainly parallels. And I ran into one while reading Todd Brenneman’s Homespun Gospel. Brenneman’s comparison of Max Lucado and Rob Bell in his chapter, “You are Special,” is spot on. The subtitle is A Tale of Two Hells. Both Bell and Lucado use sentimental means to promote their popular message. They endorse themselves as the cool ones---the ones in the know. The author notes that although you would think that the doctrine of hell is not one that would be discussed in “evangelical sentimentality,” this is where these two seemingly different theologians are the same.
And Bell would want to separate himself from Lucado. I mean, just look at Bell. He’s hip. And although he may look like he’s wearing his father’s old jacket, he is emphatically not driving his father’s Oldsmobile, theologically speaking. Not like Max Lucado. Sure, I haven’t read Max Lucado, but his very name is associated in my head with a Thomas Kinkade picture. Dreamy. Not raw. Not authentic. 
Oh, but he is the same. They are the same. And you are not special either.
On the surface, they seem to be opposite, I’m sure much to Bell’s delight and intent. Lucado affirms the existence of an eternal hell and a just God. But, like Bell, the two popular writers and speakers give hell a sentimental treatment. While affirming its existence, Brenneman demonstrates that Lucado downplays hell by “elevating” individualism. He insists that a loving God would never send people to hell; we volunteer for that lot: “He conceals this fearful language under the saccharine sentiment of God’s love” (76).
And Bell, well, despite his academic schooling, he masters “postmodern sensibilities” to try and enlighten us that Jesus never taught about an eternal hell. Without spelling it out (I-am-wearing-my-dad’s-coat), Bell expressed an evangelical cool that didn’t need to affirm eternal hell (Oldsmobiles).
Brenneman is insightful enough to recognize that:
Bell’s postmodern proclivity toward polyvocality, however, also begins to evidence how much in common Bell has with Lucado and others. Polyvocality is another way to think about the downplaying of doctrinal differences. The route to arrive at this position might take a different direction, but it arrives at a very similar destination. (78)
The author emphasizes that these two men start at the same place: God’s love. While Lucado tries to remain traditional and Bell tries to look divergent, they both reduce hell to something that we can choose now and has sentimental implications in the future. It all emphasizes the familial bonds of fatherhood that appeals to our nostalgic sense of family.
Ironically, Bell believes that even though he doesn’t drive his father’s Oldsmobile, we will all soften “and even the most ‘depraved sinners’ will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God’” (79). And Lucado affirms the existence of hell on the convoluted basis of God’s love for our special selves. It is a love that will even allow for us to make the rare decision to go there, absent from that very love. Love, love, love. “All we need is Love.”
Brenneman concludes, “It remains to be seen whether the vision of the sentimental moderns or the sentimental postmoderns will shape the next generation of evangelicals. What does seem clear, however, is that even postmodern evangelicals believe in the authority of the emotional, often at the expense of the intellectual.” (80)
Maybe they all just look like college. They think they are being insightful. They think they are opposite of their ancestors in enlightening us. But really, they all look the same.
Posted on Thursday, October 09, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
How can we approach our holy God? Isn’t this the age-old question? From the beginning of Scripture we have an amazing event recorded, even more remarkable than the creation itself: God reveals himself to man and condescends to have a relationship with him. The mere fact that we even have the Scriptures testifies to one of my favorite titles for a book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent (Francis Schaeffer). God communicates with his people. That is profound.
Before the fall God gave Adam and Eve covenantal stipulations. They were given a mandate and a restriction. And we know that after their fall, all mankind has been separated from God. How can sinful man approach our holy God? This is one of the themes that runs through Daniel Block’s wonderful book, For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology for Worship. 
Block spends the first chapter defining true worship and opens every following chapter with this definition:
True worship involves reverential human acts of submission and homage before the divine Sovereign in response to his gracious revelation of himself and in accord with his will.
He also spends a significant portion of the book teaching from the Old Testament about how God invites worship (35). “But what is most remarkable is that the God of Israel introduces himself by name, YHWH (Exod. 3:15)” (36). Block goes into great detail about the significance of this name, particularly how it “highlight[s] the personal nature of covenant relationship and inviting his people to address him not merely as a heavenly official, but as their personal God” (38). This caused me to pause and think about how amazing it is that God has graciously revealed himself to us and invites us to worship him. He is worthy of worship, and our acknowledgement of that and ability to do so is our ultimate good.
And while there is much to commend about this book, I wanted to reflect on a “remarkable event” that Block points out in discussing Old Testament texts on worship.
The event climaxes in [Exodus] 24, when Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy representatives of the people celebrated the new relationship with a banquet in the presence of God (24:9-11). What a moment that was! Eating in the presence of God, yet he did not stretch out his hand against them. This narrative provides a remarkable picture of the God who would first claim Israel’s exclusive worship, and who now claims ours. (42)
We are often comfortable with discussing how Christ invited sinners to the table in the New Testament. But these were a great number of men invited to eat in the presence of God. How intimate! And Nadab and Abihu? Well, clearly God knew what was about to occur with their false worship (see Lev. 10:1). But they are invited by name. What a privilege! And what did they eat? 
It made me think of how much greater their guilt was for their sinful approach to worship with a strange fire after dining in God’s presence.
It also reminded me of a reflection I had from reading Arthur Just’s Jr.’s great book, The Ongoing Feast:
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 in 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, Christians 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).
The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that like the Israelites, we have also been invited to a mountain (12:18-27).
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29)
Posted on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

So today’s casual conversation on the Bully Pulpit is about Daniel Block's excellent book, For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Carl, Todd, and I point out some sections of the book that stood out to us, and give an overview. As you can see, things started out cordial between the three of us while we discussed worship. a-few-good-men-cruise-demi-moore-nicholson

Until I disagreed with Carl. What happens when you disagree with Carl Trueman? He diverts attention from the topic by firing out all his favorite sexist jokes. Very brave of him to do on a day that we recorded by Skype. Listen for yourself and see how Carl reacts to a simple “I truth-2_bewerktdisagree.”

I will say he successfully sidetracks us away from the topic. So for the record, I was disagreeing on the point that people who read prayers are sissies. I don’t think it’s appropriate every time one prays to do so, but I do think it can be enriching on occasion. I would have said that if my jaw wasn’t dropped by my outrage. Well played, Carl, well played. Anyway, it’s difficult to discuss an almost 400 page book on a 15 minute program, so the three of us look forward to posting some reflections on it later this week with the unveiling of our new MoS site. Just don’t expect the new bar to be as swanky as the country club you see us meeting in the above picture. Until then, tune in to hear about this great book, and for Carl to enrage the entire female audience.

Posted on Friday, October 03, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

In titling both my blog and my first book Housewife Theologian, I am constantly trying to get the message out that everyone is a theologian. That is, we all have a knowledge of God, even the layperson. Atheists also have a knowledge of God, it’s just wrong. We are all theologians in a sense. The question is whether we are good theologians, who learn about God through his revealed Word in Scripture, or bad ones, who form our opinions from our own thoughts. Jesus prayed for us to be good theologians. We have his beautiful prayer for the unity of believers recorded in John 17. In verse 3 we read, “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 so we should all take our responsibility to know him seriously. Knowing God isn’t just a pursuit for the academics. One thing that I have appreciated is the support that I have received from pastors and professors. Rather than snub their noses at a mere housewife theologian, they have encouraged me as a someone who takes learning about God seriously. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen? The seminary’s teachings and pastoral teaching should trickle down to ordinary households, to everyday people living according to what we believe. Our theology shapes our behavior. Hyde_Final-e1409075047686But when I say everybody is a theologian, I mean everybody---children included. That’s why I was happy to endorse Daniel Hyde’s new book, The Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in Worship. Like I said, we live according to what we believe. Well, do we believe that children are part of Christ’s body? Are they included in the call to worship? And what do we believe about the worship service? Is it merely a special time for adults and children to be educated according to their learning abilities, or is there a liturgy by which we are all summoned to worship? This is a small book with only three chapters and a conclusion. Parents, pastors, elders, and congregants without children should all take the time to read it. The first chapter contrasts children’s church with children in the church. Hyde gives some history of worship in the early church, as well as the more recent ideologies that led to separating children from the worship service. He then turns to both Scripture and the Westminster Confession to discuss the covenant of grace and the visible church. Hyde concludes, “The children of believers, therefore, are children of the church and belong in the Holy Spirit’s most child-friendly nursery---public worship” (15). The second chapter is chock full of examples of “Children in Worship in Scripture.” This is a great section, highlighting the continuity from the Old Testament to the New. Here the reader will gain a better understanding of “children friendly,” and the clear teaching from Jesus that little children belong to his kingdom and should be welcomed. It also becomes clear that children were sitting under the preached Word by the fact that children are addressed in the epistles. And the third chapter gets practical. Let’s face it, it’s easier for parents to wave goodbye, “kiss, kiss!”, and have some uninterrupted peace while they are trying to listen to the sermon. Even now that my kids are old enough to be quiet, I still have to worry about getting them to actually pay attention. And I see those paper airplanes my son makes out of the bulletin. And for those who do not have children, it is a much more pleasant atmosphere when there isn’t a 3-year-old turned around in the pew trying to win a staring contest with you. I get it. So does the author. So he ends with helpful teaching and exhortation for “Parenting in the Pew.” How’s this for an appeal:

Parents, if I may be direct and to the point: I hope you realize that the most important thing you can ever train your child to do is to worship the Triune God of grace. (36)

It is our responsibility. And privilege. And like most other things that are important in life, it can be pretty hard sometimes. It’s embarrassing when our kids act up, and we don’t want to be disruptive to the other congregants. In discussing the difficulties, and recognizing the exhaustion, Hyde makes to great points: “When you remember the nature of public worship is not merely what we do and what we get out of it, but instead and foremost God’s service to us, then all the difficulties are put into their heavenly and eternal perspective.” After explaining how the Lord serves us in his prescribed sacraments and our proper response, he challenges again: “Let me put it before you in a very pointed question: Do you believe your children interfere with God’s purposes on his day to serve us?” (39). But Hyde doesn’t leave us there, the rest of the chapter is filled with edifying and helpful advice on the task of parenting in the pew. This involves more than the evil eye I have mastered, but also helping our kids to prepare, participate, engage, and comprehend. The book is only 60 pages. I think we owe it to our little theologians to take them seriously. Make sure your church has this book, it will be a blessing.   **As a side note, I love Daniel Hyde’s dedications. To the children he dedicates this book to he says, “May your childhood be filled with the joyful noises of Jesus.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 01, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
...maybe I was "converted under duress." This is one of Captain Believer's Baptism Only's arguments against my fellow MoS co-hosts. 
It was my third pregnancy. My husband grew up Catholic, and was therefore double dipped when we had attended a Baptist church for the first seven years of our marriage. Our convictions had since led us to the PCA, yet I was still unconvinced on the matter of paedobaptism. But that was okay, we were assured that we were welcomed as members and could (gasp) join them at the Lord's Table nonetheless. 
As we were learning more about God's covenants with his people, I began to experience extreme conviction on this baptism issue. And it was particularly troubling since I was about to give birth. That led us into honest study into the Scriptures regarding the issue of the administration of baptism. This was the first time that I inquired without the baptistic chip on my shoulder. And my presuppositions were crushed. Beautifully crushed.
My presuppositions (thanks to Fred Butler for this image):
I only mention this as a favor to Turk, because I know how Baptists love a good testimony before a baptism. I speak on behalf of my three children, who were baptized together. Properly.
Posted on Wednesday, October 01, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

COMME UN TORRENTOkay, so the Ref Pack decided to have a sophisticated conversation today about baptism. Really, we did. And although the three of us are all Presbyterians, I think the Reformed Baptists will appreciate how we interacted with their confession. No, I’m not being snarky; I’m being serious! But we are paedobaptists nonetheless. And so we bring up some important issues about this sacrament along with some of the pertinent questions like who should administer baptism, who is the agent of baptism, are Christian children different from other children, as well as throwing in some of the fringe that we have encountered like, what’s wrong with a maverick baptism in your tub at home? And of course we bring up double dipping. Take a listen here.

Posted on Monday, September 29, 2014 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Okay, so I don’t know many people who aspire to be ordinary. We grow up being told we are special. What would our parents think if we just turn out to be regular people? ordinary_30_image-234x300So if you write a book encouraging Christians to be content with ordinary ministry in ordinary life, there needs to be some qualifiers. Michael Horton does this in Chapter Two, “Ordinary Isn’t Mediocre.” Because if you’re like me, after reading chapter one you might be asking, “Sure, this is sounding like a cool drink of water, but how can we be content with our callings in ordinary life but still strive for excellence?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Horton explains that striving for excellence is good, but not just for the sake of being excellent. I’ve always said that I love it when people are good at what they do and do it with joy, whether it is my grocery bagger or my chiropractor. Our vocations are about serving God and neighbor, and Horton explains that “true excellence has others in mind.” (29). So this chapter discusses godly ambition and faithful commitment over time. Excellence is about passion, not selfish ambition:

You find yourself desiring something or someone whose inherent truth, beauty, and goodness draw you in. You love a particular object enough to endure whatever setbacks and challenges stand in your way. That’s true of anyone who is driven by a worthy prospect, romance, cause, or calling. (31)

One obstacle I had to reading a book written by Michael Horton praising the ordinary is that I wouldn’t call a guy who boldly marched up to James Montgomery Boice at age 13 saying, “I want to be a reformer just like you,” and then basically does just that with his life as ordinary. But the thing is, ordinary is not the same as typical. And it isn’t mediocre. “Mediocrity results from not caring at all.” He explains, “In countless examples of those we consider successful in life, we can see there was a patient commitment to daily routines, routines that to the outside observer seem dull, trivial, worthless” (32). Whether we are talking about doctrine, athletics, music, parenting, or practicing law, it’s often by faithfully exercising the foundations that we reach the freedom to be good at what we do. It’s usually the everyday commitment to our pursuit, not the novel, and not the quest for superiority itself, that leads to true excellence. And it isn’t something we can usually do alone. This is especially true for the Christian life:

However, in any field, excellence requires discipline. Discipline requires disciples, just as craftsmanship requires apprentices. Much wisdom for this discipleship may be found in the community’s accumulated resources. However, books will not be sufficient. In the church today, we do not need more conferences, more programs, and more celebrities. We need more churches where the Spirit is immersing sinners into Christ day by day, a living communion of the saints, where we cannot simply jump to our favorite chapter or Google our momentary interests. (35)

We may be talking ordinary means, but certainly not mediocre service. Love for God and our neighbor motivates us to serve with excellence, not mediocrity. And maybe it is pretty extraordinary to look outside of ourselves. The slogan Horton gives for the ordinary Christian is pretty darn exceptional, but beautifully familiar: “Because of Christ alone, embraced through faith alone, for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors alone, on the basis of God’s Word alone”---and nothing more. (44)