Posted on Sunday, August 21, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Made in America, Michael Horton (Wipf & Stock, 1991)

Okay, so I went digging for this excerpt and I own more Horton books than I realized. I’ve spent the better part of an hour sifting through underlined treasures of my favorite living theologian.  This one is pretty basic, but has always stuck with me:

When truth has been defined in such terms as, “The Lord spoke to my heart…,” and “The Lord revealed to me…,” the objective authority of Scripture loses its importance.  But we must contend for the fact that, just as God has acted and saved outside of us, in history, so he has spoken outside of us, in history.  From those who say, “God told me…,” I want the details.  What was his voice like? “Like the voice of rushing waters” (Rev. 1:15)?  What was his face like?  Even Moses couldn’t see God’s face, but evangelists based in Tulsa can. And how did you feel when God spoke to you?  Like Isaiah, who after seeing a vision of God, not even face to face, said, “Woe unto me. I am a man of unclean lips”? Nine times out of ten, the person will respond, “Well, the words, of course, weren’t audible. But you do believe that God still speaks to us, don’t you?” they ask. Of course I do. He has said more than I will ever in this lifetime be able to comprehend. But that voice is confined to holy Scripture (151-152).

This can be a hot topic.  I have certainly felt led by the Spirit in certain decisions and actions I have made.  But the fact is; these promptings cannot be immediately confirmed as authoritative words from God.  Since our own hearts and minds are corrupted by sin, we can actually be deceiving ourselves with these subjective experiences.  We can set ourselves up for some pretty serious spiritual manipulation by playing the “God told me” card.  Thankfully, he has given us objective revelation in his written Word. 

A friend once approached me with a struggle she was having.  I’ll call her Lola.  Apparently, someone at Lola’s church gave her a message they received from God.  God told them that he had plans for Lola to move.  Do you see the dilemma?  If God really gave that message to Lola’s friend, Lola would be sinning if she disobeyed.  It all starts to sound a little silly.  God did not set us up for such subjective nonsense.  His word is always true, always correct, and always authoritative.  It is also living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).  God’s word convicts and creates life.  It is holy and authoritative, not just some mystical suggestion.

Posted on Friday, August 19, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven or through the voice of a living prophet than if he spoke to you from the written words of Scripture?  Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture?  I did a study on this about 13 years ago with a group of young women.  We all had a hunger to learn more about God.  Coming from several different denominations, we really needed to start with what we believed about the authority of Scripture.  I was a budding housewife theologian at the time, attending a Baptist church.  Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology was a beginning guide to help me both learn and teach about the doctrine of the Word of God. (As a disclaimer, I will say that although I was blessed by the teachings and easy format of Grudem’s work, I do not endorse all of the theology in it.) 

Aren’t these good questions?  They were taken from Grudem’s Questions for Personal Application (p.51).  Before I get all into the theological “shoulds,” I want to address the personal aspects.  Many times I hear, or even say to myself in the midst of a major decision, “I wish God would just TELL me what to do…I want to do His will, I just don’t know what it is.”  Interestingly, God has revealed his declarative will to us in Scripture.  Much to our shock, he calls us to wisdom.  As we learn his precepts in Scripture, we gain knowledge about the character of God. 

I didn’t hear from God, “Thou shalt start a blog and thou shalt call it Housewife Theologian.”  But, just like a child who knows their parent’s character from their upbringing, I am able to make decisions in my life with liberty and confidence.  I struggled with the question of whether I should try to write a book, or start this blog.  While I do not know if God intends to bless my efforts with publication or high readership, I do know that I am not acting against his revealed will.  And I believe that the sign of wisdom in decision making lies in our own perception of how we are serving God in our choices and actions.  This could be related to choosing whom you will marry, whether or not to take a certain job, which house you are going to buy or rent, or if you should go back to school.  If we are within the bounds of obeying God’s precepts in his revealed Word (for example, he doesn’t tell us exactly who to marry, but he does tell us what kind of person to marry), we need to ask ourselves if the opportunities we are pursuing are for his glory or our own.

There may be nothing wrong with buying the house of your dreams.  But, are you planning on using it as a personal haven to escape from world, or would you be happy to share it in service and hospitality?  Even so, if circumstances changed, would you be willing to relinquish this blessing?  God in his glorious providence may take us through many circumstances in our lifetime.  If we sink our claws too deeply into even the good things in our life, they may become idols that we worship over our Creator, Lord, and Savior.

I’m always skeptical when people claim they heard a special message from God.  They might feel strongly led by the Spirit, but that is not the same as actual, authoritative words from God.  I am eager to discuss this more in my next article, but for now, I will share some verses on how God does speak to us authoritatively: through his revealed word in Scripture.  In Hebrews 1:1-2  we read, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he also created the world.”  Here we learn that the many ways that God spoke long ago (dreams, visions, etc.) through the prophets were inferior to his final revelation through his Son.  Where do we learn about this revelation through Christ?

We have Jesus recorded in the gospel of John saying, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:25-26).  Christ’s words will not pass away (Matt.24:35), and he ensured through his Spirit that his disciples would be able to remember his words and teachings to equip the church with the completed New Testament Scriptures.  So, before we go looking for some new revelation from God, maybe we should ask ourselves what our disposition is toward the authoritative, revealed words he so lovingly provided for us in Scripture.

Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Almost Christian, Kenda Creasy Dean (Oxford, 2010)

I’ve reflected on a portion of this book before, but in light of my last article, I thought Dean’s commentary on “nice” would be fitting.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH NICE?

As a social lubricant, “nice” is a cheap and versatile adjective; it offers a nod without a commitment, in religion as in other spheres.  Edward, a Hispanic seventeen-year-old from California, described his church as a place that is “warm and welcoming and people are nice.  Little groups send get well cards and stuff”…Faith is not a boundary either to claim or repudiate.  As we have mentioned, American teenagers “tend to view religion as a Very Nice Thing”—meaning that religion may be beneficial, even pleasant, but it does not ask much of them or even concern them greatly, and as far as they can tell it wields very little influence in their lives.

For all its incipient niceness, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’s superficial pleasantness pales beside Christian teaching on hospitality and compassion.  In the practice of hospitality, God sends me to strangers in the name of Jesus Christ, who calls me to recognize God’s image in them…The Bible has much to say about kindness and compassion but says nothing at all about being nice (p.33).

Hopefully I didn’t chop that up too much for you to feel a piece of the punch that I did in reading it.  Sure, we want joy in the Lord, but we do not want a bunch of God-bless-plastic smiles.  We don’t want to put bubblegum on the message.  And I’m afraid that our younger generation is not taking us seriously because many proclaiming Christian’s do not take God’s Word seriously.  If you think the Bible is a “nice” book, try opening it up and reading it at work or on the metro.  The gospel can be terrifying or glorious to a listening unbeliever, but certainly not nice.  Nice is entirely too comfortable for the Christian life. 

Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

In my last article, I talked about how one attribute of God can be so inflated above all others that he becomes a whole different God all together.  I showed how sometimes people take his omniscience to mean that God is always watching us in the manner that he is waiting for us to mess up so that he can nail us.  Today, I want to swing the pendulum to another, and I think more prevalent, misunderstanding of God.  Lacking good theological knowledge of God, many portray him to be Mr. Nice Guy.  This God’s primary goal for all his people is their own personal happiness and bolstering self-esteem.  People with this image of God live their life with the motto, Just do your best, God understands.

This characterization of God has really turned into its own religion that has infiltrated its way into many established religions and denominations.  Christian Smith and Kenda Creasy Dean, among others involved in the National Study of Youth and Religion, are convinced that these new beliefs about God have highly contributed to the staggering declining numbers of young adults leaving the church after high school and college.  This phenomenon has been named Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.   Here’s how Dean outlines it in her book, Almost Christian:

GUIDING BELIEFS OF MORALISTIC THERAPEUTIC DEISM

1.      A god exists who created and orders the world and watches over life on earth.

2.      God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

3.      The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about one’s self.

4.      God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem.

5.      Good people go to heaven when they die (p. 14)

So what’s wrong with the Mr. Nice Guy God?  Similar to the finger-pointing God, this belief is entirely man-centered.  The faith in this religion is really in oneself.  Christianity becomes a legalistic morality that has nothing to do with Christ.  Who is glorified in MTD?  You.  In the end, Mr. Nice Guy isn’t very loving at all because he cannot fulfill our deepest need.  And he surely isn’t God, because he is lacking holiness, justice, and sovereignty.  God is impotent.  Man is sovereign.

Christianity isn’t about being nice.  Our faith makes an offensive claim:  that since the Fall, man is totally depraved, unable to glorify our Creator apart from his saving grace.  We are corrupted by sin in our minds, bodies, and actions, perpetually worshiping anything and everything but God: power, fame, relationships, careers, image, pleasure…  We are in bondage and we cannot escape our horrible condition by our own efforts.  My best is not good enough.  Not even close.  And then comes one of the best phrases in the Bible, but God

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show us the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:4-8). (To read my article on the difference between nice and kind, click here.)

Ours is a historic faith with content.    “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then at last He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:3-8).  If what we claim is not true, then our whole faith falls apart.  If Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is all there is to God, than no wonder church members are dropping like flies.  The covenantal renewal ceremony turns into a moralistic pep talk.  Who needs to wake up early on a Sunday morning for that?  

Posted on Saturday, August 13, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Religious Literacy, Steven Prothero (HarperSanFrancisco, 2007)

The subtitle of this book is What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn’t.  The statistics Prothero gives are stunning.  I thought I would share a few.  You’ll have to read the book to see if you agree with him on how we should be taught…

The Gospel of John instructs Christians to “search the scriptures” (John 5:39), but little searching, and even less finding, is being done.  In 1997 Tonight Show host Jay Leno took to the streets of New York to find out how much average Americans know about the Bible.  Interviewees told him that God created Eve from an apple, that Jacob gave his son Joseph a new car, and that Matthew was swallowed by a whale.  But biblical illiteracy is not limited to Manhattan.  Consider these sobering facts gleaned from more scientific surveys:

·         Only half of American adults can name even one of the four Gospels.

·         Most Americans cannot name the first book of the Bible.

·         Only one-third know that Jesus (no, not Billy Graham) delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

·         A majority of Americans wrongly believe that the Bible says that Jesus was born in Jerusalem.

·         When asked whether the New Testament book of Acts is in the Old Testament, one quarter of Americans say    yes.  More than a third say that they don’t know.

·         Most Americans don’t know that Jonah is a book in the Bible.

·         Ten percent of Americans believed that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

Wow.  Our culture seems to be turned off by any true content to our faith.  We seem to think that we can just be good instead of knowing the One who is good.  Many claim to be a Christian merely as a social stance.  It’s like saying, “I’m a moral person.”  How can you even say you are a Christian if you do not know Christ?  I would be in utter despair if the gospel was, “be a better you.”  I am completely inept to earn God’s blessing. 

One of my favorite book titles is by Francis Schaeffer, He is There and He is Not Silent.  God is real.  He has spoken to us.  I would think that believers and unbelievers alike should care to take a listen.  I just pray that as a church, we can faithfully fulfill our Great Commission to go and make disciples, accurately dispensing his gospel message.

Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Sometimes we take an attribute of God, and inflate it beyond its holy goodness.  Subsequently, we see God only through those refashioned glasses.  Today I want to talk about a wonderful attribute of God, his omniscience.  First I will share how this attribute can be twisted to not be the proper picture of God at all.

I was actually thinking about this while persevering through Jillian Michael’s 6 Week 6 Pack, Level Two workout.  As I’m breathing heavily and sweating profusely about two-thirds of the way to the end of the workout, Jillian says, “Know that I am always watching you, kind of like a horror film.”  She has a wonderful way of encouraging you not to quit.  Of course, that got me thinking.  Many people live their lives before God, believing this is how his omniscience functions. 

Omniscience is a fun theological word that means God is all-knowing.  He knows everything—the past, the present, the future…our thoughts and motives.  When we begin to think about it, it might seem a little like a horror film.  If God knows my thoughts, he’s perfectly aware of the lofty judgmental notions I have while shopping at WalMart.   He knows that every Sunday as a kid (and teenager) I would mentally brush my pastor’s comb-over to the other side during his sermons.  How embarrassing is that?  And when I couple his omniscience with his holiness, I know that my sin-o-meter just tripled!

In Heb. 4:13 we read, “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him whom we must give account.”    Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that “God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (2:16). This really could be worse than a horror film.

Jillian intimidates me with her faux omniscience to make me work out harder.  She’s always saying, “Don’t phone it in,” and has no problem bullying clients right in front of her, or through the TV screen, into finishing their workout with no regrets.  That can be effective in fitness training, but not in holy living.  In fact, it can drive us to utter despair.  No matter how hard we may strive for righteousness, we fall very short.  Sin causes us to hide from our holy God.  We see this right in the beginning with Adam and Eve.  After their sinful act, they became ashamed, covered their bodies, and hid from God.  They realized they were exposed, and couldn’t bear it.

But our holy God is also a merciful God.  He isn’t like the bad guy in a horror film who is just waiting for you to make the wrong move.  God is perfectly just, and he will deal with sin.  But in his merciful grace, he has sacrificed his very own son as both the perfect sin offering and the perfect righteous covering. God the Father points to this in the very beginning when he graciously pursues Adam and Eve, removes their own covering of leaves, and replaces it with a covering of animal skin.  When God covered them blood had to be shed, but it wasn’t theirs. 

Jillian motivates by threatening me not to phone in my workout.  No one else can do it for me.  If I want results, I am responsible for all the work.  But in my holy living before God, I want to phone it in.  I do not want God to deal with my sin through me.  I cannot produce my godly righteousness with my own efforts.  I rely on the work of Jesus Christ, my saving Lord.  Jillian may not be able to provide a healthy body for me.  She wants me to work hard to keep this body in good shape.  But we all know that it is still going to age, and eventually perish.  But meanwhile, that doughnut I ate for breakfast can be compensated for by extra sweat and tears on the mat.  Jillian doesn’t really know that I ate it (does she?). 

God does know.  He knows all.  And it will be dealt with (I’m not talking about doughnuts now, am I?).  Thankfully, I am not only forgiven through the work of Christ, but I will be given a new, imperishable body with his second coming.  I can actually look forward to the coming of my Lord and Savior, as a groom coming for his bride.  He is doing the transforming work in me now, preparing me for that great day.  Praise God for his abounding mercy and grace!

Posted on Tuesday, August 09, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

The City of God, St. Augustine (The Modern Library, 2000)

Although this particular edition that I have is from 2000, Augustine was an ordained priest at Hippo, and completed this book in the year 426.  I read this book years ago,  but I like to pick it up every now and then for a little spiritual snack.  Today I read this from p. 577:

For this reason, “let not the prudent glory in his prudence, and let not the mighty glory in his might, and let not the rich glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this—to understand and know the Lord, and to do judgment and justice in the midst of the earth.”  He in no small measure understands and knows the Lord who understands and knows that even this,that he can understand and know the Lord, is given to him by the Lord.  “For what hast thou,” saith the apostle, “that thou hast not received?  But if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hast not received it?”

This just led me to be so thankful for what I do know and understand about God.  I am so thankful that he has given us prophets and priests and kings that have pointed toward his Son Jesus Christ.  I am immeasurably thankful for the life Jesus led, the death he endured, his glorious resurrection, the apostles he commissioned, the gift of his Holy Spirit, and the inauguration of his kingdom.  I am thankful for the men and women who faithfully carried the apostle’s letters to the now infamous first churches, and those who have died to preserve them.  I am thankful for the brave martyrs who have stood firm in the fight to keep his church pure.  And I am thankful for God creating new life in me, giving me the faith to see his irresistible grace.  I am thankful for his enduring word that will not fade.  I am thankful for his promise.  And I am thankful for his covenantal love bestowed on his people.  I am thankful to be one of those people.  And I am thankful that he is so great, so immense, that I will forever continue to learn more of him for eternity.

Posted on Monday, August 01, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis (Harper Collins, NY, 2001)

I suspect that many of the most beautiful women today do not get the fame and recognition that those pretty-packaged Hollywood ladies are receiving.  One of the most vivid descriptions of a beautiful woman that has stuck in my mind was penned by C. S. Lewis.  He was describing a sort of heavenly parade in the honor of one woman who had finished her life on this earth:

And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it?...is it?”  I whispered to my guide.

“Not at all,” said he.  “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of.  Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”

“She seems to be…well, a person of particular importance?”

“Aye.  She is one of the great ones.  Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”

“And who are these gigantic people… look!  They’re like emeralds…who are dancing and throwing flowers before her?”

“Haven’t ye read your Milton?  A thousand liveried angels lackey her.”

“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”

            “They are her sons and daughters.”

“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son—even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door.  Every girl that met her was her daughter.” 

“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”

“No.  There are those that steal other people’s children.  But her motherhood was of a different kind.  Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more.  Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers.  But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives” (188-119).

Now this is the beauty that I aspire to be!  I want to be beautiful like Sarah Smith.  It is a beauty that changes people.  It is a contagious beauty that isn’t prideful.  Beauty is not something that we acquire over others, rather, it is a component of our sexuality that we share with others in an appropriate way.  It is not the lack of beauty in someone else that makes me more beautiful.  Quite the opposite, another person’s beauty can enhance my own! 

How often do we let jealousy corrupt our beauty or the beauty of others?  What are we doing to make others beautiful?  Woman have a unique opportunity to pass God’s beauty to so many others: our husbands, our children, our in-laws, our neighbors, our churches, and our communities.  Just think of the ripple effect this could make if we were to take it seriously!  We need to recognize the lie that our culture is selling about beauty and turn our eyes to the Creator of all that is beautiful.  There is much emphasis today on cleaning up the environment and keeping it beautiful.  Well, how about ourselves?

Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

If You Bite and Devour One Another, Alexander Strauch (Lewis & Roth, 2011)

The theme of this book is found on page 8:

When conflict arises, our attitudes and behaviors should reflect our new life in Christ given by the Holy Spirit who lives within us.  We are to display the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh.  We are to walk in step with the Spirit’s leading.  We are to be Spirit-controlled and not flesh-controlled or out of control.

Obviously, that’s way easier said than done, which is why this book is so helpful.  As I am reading Strauch’s biblical wisdom on handling conflict, I have been meditating on what it means to walk in the Spirit.  As he contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh, of course I long to always display the fruit of the Spirit.  Why do I so often succumb to the flesh?  While we know many of the theological reasons for this, the church has to face an issue that wives do every day: submission.  Submitting to God’s word is foundational to walking in the Spirit.  God’s Holy Spirit gives the Christian both the desire and power to do this.  When we all agree, submission sounds good and dandy; but when we disagree, it is a painful process.  Submission cannot be a fake, outward veneer.  It begins in the reliance on the sufficiency of Christ.  My complete trust in Christ is the only way I will choose his way for his glory. 

This principle gets even trickier when we are sinned against.  How do we react?  Strauch reminds us, “When people, whether they are believers or unbelievers, abuse or persecute us, we are to respond with the most positive, proactive display of love possible.  Jesus does not call us to be passive martyrs who merely grin and bear it; we are to actively ‘bless’ those who wrong us and not ‘curse’ them (Rom. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:9)!  Our Lord wants us to pray that God would have mercy on and change the hearts of those who persecute and abuse us (p. 29).”  We want that fruit of the Spirit, but we cannot produce it ourselves.  We are dependent upon his Spirit in prayer.  He produces his fruit within us.  And even though this kind of pruning can be painful at first, the fruit is joy in the end.  Joy in love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).   Of course these are all attributes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I remember the day I brought my first daughter home from the hospital.  During my stay, nurses watched over my every move.  They charted diaper changes and nursing sessions, monitored visitors, regularly checked on our vitals, examined my husband’s worthiness, and offered all kinds of mothering advice.  Upon checkout, they even made me leave in a wheelchair and inspected our car seat.   Then, as my husband pulled up, they practically dumped me out of the wheelchair and waved goodbye.  Matt looked at me in panic.  He loved all the hovering and nurturing.  It did feel kind of strange to be driving away with this new baby to take care of all by ourselves.  At first, they acted like I needed to be taught to do the most natural of things, and then they waved me off with total autonomy.  Solanna turned 12 yesterday, and I’m still in shock that I’m allowed to be her mother.

Perhaps this is a sequel to my article, Housewives and Paychecks, as I’ve been thinking about the term professional.  When Matt and I were driving away with our newborn baby, he was horrified that we haven’t been properly educated for this weighty undertaking.  To try and calm his nerves, I followed the mantra that just resurfaced on one of my workout videos: fake it till you make it!  But seriously, all day long the humbling task of motherhood serves as a constant reminder of my unprofessionalism.  But what does that word even mean anymore?

A professional used to refer to someone who is paid for a specific task in which they are specially trained or educated.  Now, the term seems to imply a certain virtue in work.  We still use the first definition, for example, when we distinguish a professional athlete from an amateur.  And yet, we complain that professional athletes don’t behave professionally.  In this manner, we use the term to refer to a personal integrity.  To throw in another wrench, professionalism also seems to be amalgamating with political correctness.  Now one is expected to perform with virtue as well as model proper, cool lingo in conflict avoidance.  In this, I think we are confusing being good with looking good.  Fake it till you make it.

This week my pastor preached on the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19:11-27.  Here Jesus is showing his disciples that their whole idea of his kingdom is misconstrued.  They were expecting immediate royal rule and prosperity.  Jesus explains that he’s going to be gone for a while before he fully consummates his kingdom on earth.  There is an already/not yet tension going on.  So in the parable, the nobleman gives ten servants each a mina (about three months salary) to do business with before he returns to claim his kingdom.  Upon his return, we see that the servants were held accountable for their trading and gain.  The servants were rewarded for their profitable gains, and the one who did not invest his mina in any way had it taken from him.

Here Jesus is describing a true professional as one who creates gain.  I love John Calvin’s exposition:

Now, the gain which Christ mentions is general usefulness, which illustrates the glory of God.  For, though God is not enriched, and makes no gain, by our labours, yet when every one is highly profitable to his brethren, and applies advantageously, for their salvation, the gifts which he has received from God, he is said to yield profit, or gain, to God himself.  So highly does our heavenly Father value the salvation of men, that whatever contributes to it he chooses to place to his own account.  That we may not become weary in doing well, (Gal. 6:9,) Christ declares that the labour of those who are faithfully employed in their calling will not be useless (Calvins Commentaries Vol. XVI, p. 443).

I’ve already been paid.  And there’s much more to come.  But what am I doing with what I’ve been given?  Am I putting it out there for the use of the common good?  Sometimes we have that fearful feeling like Matt and I did leaving the protective care of those nurses.  While Christ is at the right hand of his Father, his rule has not yet been made manifest to the world.  But he has dispersed his people in the world to put to use what we have been given.  He equips us with different spiritual gifts, natural abilities, and opportunities to further advance his gospel message and to better serve our neighbors for the common good of his civil kingdom.  Like my pastor Jerry said, only Christ will make known its value.  He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness.  He will reveal the true professionals.