Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

What do goats and coffee have in common? Well as the folktale goes, an Ethiopian named Kaldi did not understand why his goats were playing and dancing so joyously one day, paying him no mind.  As it turned out, they had been nibbling on some berries from what we now know to be coffee trees.  Eventually, Kaldi’s curiosity got the best of him, and he joined his energetic goats…and the rest is history. Okay, okay, we really don’t know exactly when or who discovered the now second most valuable exported legal commodity (after oil), but the old wives’ tale still lives on.  The first printed record of coffee was in the tenth century, by an Arabian physician named Rhazes.  It is believed that by then coffee had been deliberately cultivated for hundreds of years.                                                                            

Today we take for granted this mystical beverage, but its history reveals the strong impact coffee has made in many diverse cultures socially, politically, and economically.   It has been a companion for both the rich and the poor, used for its medicinal qualities and as a fuel for the thinkers of the day, as well as the meeting place for ideas and revolutions.

Our modern techniques for brewing and trained baristas might fool us into thinking that coffee has always been served up delicious and sophisticated.  Yet, coffee has been through many stages to get to our “mocha lattes” today.  The coffee plant actually produces berries, of which the bean is in the center.  Its leaves and berries were boiled together to make a weak tea.  Warriors used to mix the berries with animal fat to eat for a great pick-me-up before battle.  Wine was made from the berry’s fermented pulp.  Qishr, a sweet beverage made from lightly roasted husks of the coffee cherry, led to a drink now known as kisher. It wasn’t till around the end of the sixteenth century that coffee beans began to be roasted and ground to make an infusion.                                                                                                                                

Coffee spread from Ethiopia into the Arab world most likely after the Ethiopians invaded Yemen. The Arabs called it qahwa (the Arab word for wine).  This is where the word “coffee” is derived.  Wealthy people had coffee rooms added to their homes which were used for ceremonial imbibing.  For the lower classes who could not afford such rooms, the “coffee houses” sprang up and filled quickly.                       

By the fifteenth century coffee was introduced into the Islamic world by Muslim pilgrims.  Political leaders could not stop its popularity as it spread through Persia, Egypt, Turkey, and North Africa. Coffee was so popular in culture that Turkish women could actually divorce their husbands if they did not provide them with a sufficient supply.                                               

We actually get our term, “mocha,” from the Yemeni port of Mocha, a very popular trade route which introduced coffee to French and Venetian merchants.  Although the Turks labored to monopolize the trees’ cultivation in Yemen by not allowing any fertile berries out of the port, during the 1600’s seeds were inevitably smuggled to the southern India, Holland, Java, Sumatra, Celebes, Timor, Bali, and other islands in the East Indies (who determined the world market price of coffee for many years).                                 

As passion for the brew grew in Europe, Pope Clement viii blessed coffee as a Christian beverage so that it would not be the property of Satan…and we thank him for that.  During the second half of the sixteenth century, coffee shops were springing up all over Europe.  Doctors were peddling coffee for medical claims, while at the same time others were debunking its medical value.  In the next century, the French coffee house, Café de Procope, drew in a diverse crowd including Voltaire (who drank fifty cups a day), Rousseau (who called for coffee on his deathbed), Diderot, and a visiting Benjamin Franklin.  “The French historian Michelet described the advent of coffee as ‘the auspicious revolution times, the great event which created new customs, and even modified human temperament.’”  It provided public places for all types of people to meet and talk, while lowering the consumption of alcohol.                                               

By the 1670’s coffee reached Germany.  Surviving the rumored controversy that           coffee caused sterility and stillborns, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his humorous Coffee Cantata in 1732.  It is said that Beethoven was very particular about his coffee, making sure his grind had precisely sixty beans to brew a single cup. Fredrick the Great, who liked to boil his coffee with champagne, was disgusted by how common a drink coffee had become to the masses.  He tried to stifle coffee drinking among the poor, but to no avail.                                               

In London, during the early1700’s, coffee houses were known as penny universities.  And although only a mere penny you could get a cup of coffee and hours of a great conversation, the coffee houses were flourishing--paying more rent and occupying more premises than any other trade. Our custom of the “tip” began in the coffee houses of London.  Patrons would pay a few extra pence “To Insure Promptness.”  Lloyds of London, the famous insurance company, started as a coffee house that catered to seafarers.                                                             

In 1689, the first American coffee house opened in Boston.  Daniel Webster referred to it as the “headquarters of revolution,” as John Adams, James Otis, and Paul Revere were regular frequenters.  After the taxation of tea by King George, the resulting Boston Tea Party was instigated in the Green Dragon Coffee House.  Coffee drinking then became a symbol of patriotism.                                                           

The Merchant’s Coffee house in New York was the center of much political activity.  A group of radicals made the first plan for a union of colonists there, and in 1788 the United States Constitution was celebrated by raising a flag at this coffee house.  It was also the place used for the great reception after our first president, George Washington, was inaugurated. 

Moving into the industrial revolution, coffee was an affordable way to provide warmth and stimulation so that the common person could work longer. It replaced beer soup for breakfast.  Coffee now was a common part of the working man and working woman’s diet.                               

We have seen an uprising in coffee houses in the last twenty years. Once again, people have been coming together and sharing ideas over the brew.  Artists, poets, and business people once again have been using the coffee house as a social office.  But even more recently, the American culture has become so busy that the “to go” cup has become a popular choice.  Instead of a coffee break, it is being ordered by drive through and consumed on the run.  One has to wonder if coffee has lost some of its hospitable abilities and charm.                                   

Throughout history, coffee has gone from being used for medicinal purposes, to being a guilty pleasure.  More recent research is proving coffee to be quite the health drink. As a matter of fact, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet.  So, drink more coffee!  Three to five cups a day will prevent bowel cancer, liver cancer, and ovarian cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (2007).  It has also been found to help prevent Type Two Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones and lowers the number of liver enzymes in our blood. Not only that, studies are showing that moderate use of coffee increases athletic performance and endurance, improves concentration, alertness when driving, as well as enhancing the cognitive function of our brains throughout the day.                                

So, the old philosophers were right: coffee does make you smarter.  And those early doctors were right in using the popular beverage for medicinal purposes!  Now we can add health as an impact coffee is making in our culture today.

Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Women are very good doers.  We write lists, multi-task, and get things done.  God created women to be helpers and has equipped us with much strength to do so.  However, today I want to propose that maybe our best gifts are a bit more inert.  There are many things that we cannot do, and should not do.  Whoa, I know that is an outlandish statement to make in this feminist, woman-power culture.  Women cannot and should not do everything they set their mind to.  Sometimes it’s better to receive.

As the Catechism states, humans were made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Since God is greatly glorified through His Son, Jesus Christ; I have to ask how we as women model the gospel and how we reflect Christ.  I would say much of that is through receiving.  I want to discuss what we receive in our natural life, our spiritual life, and how our ambitious doings fit into the equation.

What we receive in our natural life:

First of all in our natural life, we receive life.  The creation account tells us that Eve was made from the rib of man.  Focusing on what that means for a woman, we see a leadership component from the start in Adam’s sacrifice for his lady.  Furthermore, Adam names Eve, Isha (woman) because she comes from Ish (man).  The feminine Hebrew ending adds a softer meaning to woman’s name.  As Eve received her name from Adam, the tradition has continued for a woman to take her husband’s last name in marriage.  Many women today wish not to be identified by their husband’s name because right away it is an act of submission, recognizing the husband’s governmental priority in the relationship.  However, most are born with their father’s last name, of which they have received.

What we receive in our Spiritual Life:

There is much receiving taking place in the spiritual lives of both men and women.  We receive new birth through the Holy Spirit by faith, which is also obtained as a gift (Eph. 2:8-9).  We receive a special dose of God’s grace every Sunday through the preached word and the sacraments.  By this, we are receiving Christ and all His benefits.  In our new spiritual identity, we are once again receiving a name—Christian.  A woman’s special role in the natural world as helper and receiver reflects Christ and His gospel in many ways.  Jesus was in full submission to His Father’s will.  He will always be.  Our submission in marriage and church leadership is a model of Christ’s submission.  It is also a model of the church’s submission to Christ.  Women reflect the gospel when we, as Elizabeth Elliot put it, “…receive the given as Mary did, not to insist on the not-given as Eve did”(Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Crossway, 2006).  Elizabeth explains how Eve refused her femininity when she refused to accept the will of God.  Do we want to continue behaving like Eve, working against God’s precious gifts to us? 

What About All of our Ambitions?

Like I said, God has graciously equipped women with many different strengths to help in the human pursuit of the Cultural Mandate, as well as in our responsibility as Christian disciple’s to fulfill the Great Commission.  I for one, have all kinds of ideas cooking in my head of things to do in these callings.  But just because God has gifted me in certain ways, or given me an ambitious mind, doesn’t mean that my goals for how these tasks should be accomplished are the same as His great plan.  There are three hedges that help direct me along my way:  my church’s leadership, my husband’s leadership, and God’s providence.  First off, I need to ask the question, am I operating within my proper, biblical perimeters as taught by my church?  Church elders should be clear on the proper functions and roles of men and women.  Secondly, do my ideas hinder my husband in his responsibilities?  In other words, am I functioning within my God-given role as a helper?  Furthermore, do I have my husband’s support?  If the light is still green, we can move forward with our ambitions as they glorify God.  All the while we need to be aware that our significance is found in Christ, who is sufficient.  No goal of my own will ever fulfill me or give me my value.  My value is found in Christ alone: not in my husband, my motherhood, my service, or my career. 

The third hedge is a little trickier.  God may set us out on a certain path.  He may give us a passion, equip us well to serve in a certain area, and give us all the green lights to pursue it.  We may go at it confidently and diligently only to find a closed door in the end.  Did we fail?  Not necessarily.   I’m only willing to call it failure if we have sinned.  (And, amazingly, our gracious God can even pick up our failures and use them for His glory.)  My encouragement is to be humbly ambitious.  Receive the gifts and passions God gives you, and go after them.  All the while be ready to let go at all times for the Ultimate Satisfaction—the pearl of great price.  Accept God’s answers with confidence, without sulking. 

There’s no “to do list” for life!  I can’t make that list.  I have to say, I feel stronger than ever about God’s plan for my life, but I couldn’t be more clueless to what it actually is!  I’m confident in His truth, in His direction for me, and in my eschatological goals, but not in many of the details He is working to get me there.  As I prayerfully consider all my rabbit trails along the way, my resignation is: Lord You reign, the way You want to!

Further Meditation: Eph. 5:22-33, Phil. 2:1-11

Posted on Friday, May 20, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Commission, by Michael Horton (Baker Books, 2011)

I am only fifty pages into Horton’s new, new book and have found many gems.  This section summarizes something I’m passionate about:

We are God’s Analogy, created in his image to reflect in our own creaturely manner that covenantal relationship of male and female in mission.  Just as God completed all of his work and then entered his Sabbath enthronement, Adam—with Eve at his side—was to lead creation in triumphant procession into the consummation: everlasting confirmation in immortal glory.  Long after the original treason of this royal couple in Paradise, the Last Adam appeared.  Jesus Christ is both the missionary God and the human representative who fulfilled the mission for which we were created.  The whole story of the Bible turns on the merciful determination of this Triune God to redeem and to restore sinful creatures and the creation that lies in bondage because of the curse.  In spite of every failure, disloyalty, and unfaithfulness of the human partner in the covenant, God will complete his mission.  And in the person of Christ, he has also fulfilled the mission that he assigned to humankind in Adam: to lead creation into the everlasting blessing of immortality, forgiveness, righteousness, and peace …

We must never take Christ’s work for granted.  The gospel is not merely something we take to unbelievers; it is the Word that created and continues to sustain the whole church in its earthly pilgrimage.  In addition, we must never confuse Christ’s work with our own.  There is s lot of loose talk these days about our “living the gospel” or even “being the gospel,” as if our lives were the Good News.  We even hear it said that the church is an extension of Christ’s incarnation and redeeming work, as if Jesus came to provide the moral example or template and we are called to complete his work.  But there is one Savior and one head of the church.  To him alone all authority is given in heaven and on earth.  There is only one incarnation of God in history, and he finished the work of fulfilling all righteousness, bearing the curse, and triumphing over sin and death.

We use the verb “redeem” too casually today, as if we (individually or collectively) could be the agent of this source of action.  God has already redeemed the world in his Son, having “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).  On this basis, the Spirit is at work applying this redemption, drawing sinners to Christ, justifying and renewing them, in the hope that their bodies will be raised together with an entirely renovated creation (Rom. 8:16-23).  The church comes into being not as an extension or further completion of Christ’s redeeming work but as a result of his completed work.  Heralds announce victory; they don’t achieve it. (26-27)

It is such a relief to me that the gospel is about Christ’s achievement, not my own.  If I were relying on my own life to be the gospel to others, I would not blame unbelievers for their rebellion.  The fact is I’m a sinner who doesn’t have the power to save anybody.  The Good News is that Christ set his love on me anyway, and his Word is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).  God uses his Word in the gospel to actually provide for us a new birth through his Holy Spirit.  In grateful and joyous response, I am empowered to live my life according to the gospel, but I could never assert the position of the One who was given all authority in heaven and earth.  Adam and Eve tried to assert their own position in how they were going to achieve immortal glory.  Through God’s grace I know that I, myself am not the Good News.

Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Last Friday, I went out to dinner with my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and friend Cory.  We were celebrating the spring birthdays of my sisters and Cory.  As we were chatting it up, a lady was soliciting diners to buy roses from her pre-packaged stash.  My mother obliged, and treated us each to a rose.  I was the only recipient without a spring birthday, but what the heck, she wanted me to feel special too. Upon returning home, it was so late that I neglectfully left my yellow rose in the car (sorry mom).  Saturday came with rain and overnight company and the rose had completely left my mind.  I discovered it again on our Sunday morning ride to church.

I looked at the derelict yellow rose packaged tightly in its clear wrapping and felt guilty.  The petals were beginning to wither—yellow is my favorite—and its closed bloom was beginning to hang.  How could I be so remiss with this gesture from my mom?  I set it in the garage while we headed off to church, hoping it would eventually make its way to a vase that day.  And it did.  I picked out the perfect throwback vase and cut a couple inches from the stem.  Maybe she would last a day.

I don’t know when it happened (and wish I could have seen it) but that rose opened up into full, beautiful glory.  Unexpectedly, she looked freshly cut from the garden, shining her golden glow with distinguished strength. Despite my dilapidated care, she persevered to her final glorification.

I was thinking about my pretty yellow rose that evening during my bubble bath prayer (sometimes those are more reflective).  In this stage of my life I could identify with the rose all packaged up, waiting to serve God.  She looked nice through the clear wrapping—pretty enough to sell.  But she was sold with a potential to spread her petals and be beautiful.  In my recent frustrations, I was feeling like the purchased flower left in the car.  As I prayed, I was encouraged to thank God for my salvation and future hope of glorification.  I knew that no matter how I felt, I too would beautifully glorify my God in the end.  But I pleaded; what more can I do now?  I’m thirsty too!  Am I being ungrateful that I don’t want to stay in the wrapper, or am I closing my eyes to the many ways God is using me for His glory now?  I feel like my petals are withering in all of my attempts.  As I wearily move to bed each night, I think of all the ways I could have served my neighbor better.  Am I choosing the right ways?  Are there right ways and wrong ways?

That’s when my metaphor taught me another lesson.  Many of my ambitions to glorify God and serve my neighbor surpass my own capabilities.  God is transforming me into the image of His Son through this whole life-process of sanctification.  Sometimes I get ahead of myself.  I saw that clear wrapping as a symbol of God's protection.  It protected the rose as it passed through various hands and waited in my car.    She had to wait for the right time to reach her full potential, but all the while she was glorifying her maker by functioning in her role.  I am in God’s will as I function in the proper roles God has placed me.  In the process I might lose some petals, my color may fade, and I surely need pruning.  But all these things will be a part of my beauty, which is God’s glory, in the end.

Meditation: Isaiah 40:31

Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I like fun words.  I love learning new words or rediscovering old ones to use in my vocabulary.  So every Wednesday I will be posting a new word of the week, along with its definition.  I challenge you to use it in conversation throughout the week so that it can sink into your normal rhetoric.  It might be cool to involve the kids as well!  Also, if you would like to submit a word you can email me at mail@housewifetheologian.com and if I decide to post it, I will give you the credit.  Why don’t you have a crack at using our word in a sentence in the comment section…could be interesting.

This week’s word is:

Neologist--an oh so special title for someone who makes up words.  Maybe you are a neologist.  Go ahead and comment on your creations!

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, by Dr. Seuss

The Byrdhouse loves Dr. Seuss.  As I was tucking my 6-year-old son into bed last night, I read him this book.  We giggled at all of the different sorts of people Dr. Seuss reminds us to be lucky we’re not.  For example,

 Poor Ali Sard has to mow grass in his uncle’s back yard and it’s quick growing grass and it grows as he mows it.  The faster he mows it, the faster he grows it…

We are certainly thankful we are not poor Ali Sard.  But the best part was our bedtime prayer afterward.  I thanked the Lord for our family, that we are who we are, but best of all, it has nothing to do with luck.  He has blessed us with much, but immeasurably so in that we are not given what we really deserve.  Even though we deserve his wrath for our sin, we are blessed in our unity with Christ.  And this should encourage us not to compare our fortune with others, as we know that by grace we are given entrance into the kingdom of God.

Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I’m not the best small-talker.  For me, the function of small talk is a warm-up for deeper conversation.  I’m comfortable with that.  First you have to serve the ping-pong ball back and forth a couple of times before settling on a shared topic of interest.  But these days, small talk has become the so-called conversation.  At parties, people become uncomfortable when you actually want to talk.  Serious conversation is almost looked at as work, as social emphasis is placed on being entertaining and, well, shallow.  I come home from my day of interacting feeling frustrated that I’ve been caught up in a bunch of words with no value.

My friend, Dana, warned me as a freshman on the Facebook scene not to be discouraged if my posts don’t generate many replies.  Apparently, people love to talk about the weather and what you’re cooking for dinner.  Really?  People are logging into the cyber-world for small talk?  Tim Challies argues that “We live in an age in which words have become a cheap commodity, and much of our communication has become unbearably light, frustratingly anti-intellectual, and devoid of substance” (The Next Story, p. 76).  This, he views as a negative consequence of the digital explosion.  I also see it as a side-effect of hurried, busy lives.  Between running from school, to preparing a quick meal, to baseball, my thoughts are fragmented and my time with the people I encounter is brief (except in sitting through a game of little league kid pitch!).

Even when I do try to bring up a thoughtful topic, or ask a deeper question, I’m often given the cricket serenade.  Reflective thought these days comes off as smarmy, or a bit weird (that’s why we become bloggers).  But think about it.  Social critics lament on the fact that the average US home has their TV on for at least 7 hours a day.  If we do the math, that’s at least 49 hours a week and 2,555 hours a year.  I wonder how our small talk time would add up?  Maybe we’re just putting out what we’re taking in.

Small talk isn’t always a bad thing.  It is a good warm-up to find a conversation topic.  And there are definitely transitional times in our day when small talk is the appropriate talk.  There’s nothing wrong with being entertaining and light—sometimes we just need to get together and take a load off.  And lately, the weather has been an interesting topic for conversation.  Light talk is handy when we are amongst new acquaintances.  There are plenty of appropriate uses for small talk.  But are we using them appropriately, or are we just talking small? 

Moving Forward

Do you want some more meaningful conversation?  Me too!  Here are a few tips that may get us moving in the right direction:

  • What are you taking in?  Is that TV on for 7 hours?  How much time are you spending keeping up on your friend’s latest status updates?  What was the last good book you read?  How is your time in God’s word?  If we feed ourselves with knowledge, we may have more worthy things to talk about.
  • Be prepared to ask good questions.  Since we are busy, and our interactions may be brief, think of some questions that you could ask to help you learn from the person you may be engaging.  You could even brainstorm on the car ride there. 
  • Remove some of that veneer.  Many times that smile on our face doesn’t express joy.  Rather, it’s pasted on there to portray an image—I’m fantastic! Now leave me alone.  We have to be willing to notice some our own off-putting, intimidating non-verbal gestures if we want to be approachable.
  • Always have the gospel in mind.  As I find myself going way off-track in gossip, or meaningless chatter, I need to be reminded of the gospel—and place it back in the center of my thoughts.  This is our conversation filter.  I need to get better at reminding myself before my mouth opens.
  • Schedule some get-togethers with purpose.  Sure, it’s great to have evenings out just to be light and have fun, but make sure you also plan for enriching dates .  For example, invite someone over for coffee-talk to discuss the biggest challenges they faced this semester in college, or to talk about the latest books you have read.  Stating a purpose of conversation before the visit can help keep you focused on quality time.

Now, talk amongst yourselves…

Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller (Dutton, 2008)

When it comes to identifying idols and applying the gospel, Keller is so convicting for me.  This book goes through the parable of the prodigal son, showing the idolatry of self-righteousness in the older son, and the Father as the One who has spent everything.  Here’s a quote near the end that I believe convicts us all:

We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security.  We believe the gospel at one level, but at deeper levels, we do not.  Human approval, professional success, power and influence, family and clan identity—all these things serve as our heart’s “functional trust” rather than what Christ has done, and as a result we continue to be driven to a great degree by fear, anger, and a lack of self-control.  You cannot change such things through mere will power, through learning Bible principles and trying to carry them out.  We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts.  We must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and making it a part of ourselves. That is how we grow. (115)

I’m not a Christian because I’m a good, moral person.  I am a Christian because I am a depraved, selfish person who has been pursued by irresistible grace.  My redeemer, Jesus Christ, is sufficient to clothe me in His righteousness and transform me into His image.  He is where I find my value, meaningfulness, and success.  Why do I keep turning to my own ways of achievement?  Whether the doors of opportunity have been open or shut for me, my Lord has never let me down.  Even when I get caught up in looking to something else for fulfillment, He is gracious to reveal to me my idols, and even remove them from me if need be.  Thank you, Lord, for pursuing Your people at all cost, and not allowing one of us to escape Your love.

Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

On our way to church last week, we stopped behind a car with this bumper-sticker:

God recycles.  He made man out of the dust.

Really?  That’s our witness?  A cheesy idiom that will win over the environmentalists?  Will it? Maybe they were environmentalist, chastising wastefulness.  If this was the case, I think it would have been better to say, “God cares about the earth, He created it.”  God is a creator, not merely a recycler.  Everything He creates has a purpose, and the manner in which He creates has a message.  I don’t think the message of creating man from the ground was merely to promote recycling.  Let’s look at the text:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Gen. 2:7).

Wow!  There are so many theological happenings going on in that verse; I only endeavor to mention a few.  Most commentaries on this verse mention the Hebrew wordplay between Adam (‘adam) and ground (‘adamah).  This implies a connection between man and the earth.  Adam and Eve are given the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28), in which they are told of their responsible dominion over the earth and all the living things on it.  Earth was their home and their natural bodies pointed to that.  After they sinned in the Fall, earth is where they will be buried.  Paul explains to us in 1 Corinthians; There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And it is so written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man (15:44b-49). 

The fact that Adam was made from the ground points to our utter dependence on God.  He is the potter, we are the clay (Isaiah 29:16, Rom. 9: 20-21).  God created Adam to have a goal: to earn for his progeny that day of rest, ruling at the right hand of God.  Where Adam failed, Christ was victorious (Heb. 2:5-9).  We need something more than our natural bodies to reach that goal.  Our own righteousness will not do, it leads to death.  By our unity with Christ, the life-giving Spirit, we may gain entrance into the new heavens and new earth that is being prepared for us.  Our natural bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies.

It is also worth noting that man did not become a living being until God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  It is God’s breath, God’s word that creates life.  There is meaningful theology saturating this account of the creation of man.  Sure, we can see by the process recorded that man possesses a higher dignity than the animals and the rest of creation; but this description teaches about God more than it teaches about man.  He created the heavens and the earth by His word and He gave life to man by His breath.  Again, this points to the regenerating, life-giving power of the Logos, Jesus Christ.  We know that our salvation involves rebirth.  But just as with the account of the creation of man, the Bible tells us a bit of the process of that rebirth.  We are saved by grace through faith, which comes through the preached word of the gospel.  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher (Rom. 10:14)?  God’s word is living and active (Heb. 4:12, Isaiah 55:11), accomplishing His purposes.

This verse of creation reveals many things about God and man.  I could never dare to know God’s thoughts in creation, except for what He has revealed to us in Scripture.  But I will be so bold to say that He wasn’t thinking, “What else can I do with this dirt?”  His agenda was not to conserve, but to create.  This is not an article against recycling and its benefits.  This is an article against cheesy bumper-sticker witnessing that reduces God’s work to an ideological cliché.

Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I like fun words.  I love learning new words or rediscovering old ones to use in my vocabulary.  So every Wednesday I will be posting a new word of the week, along with its definition.  I challenge you to use it in conversation throughout the week so that it can sink into your normal rhetoric.  It might be cool to involve the kids as well!  Also, if you would like to submit a word you can email me at mail@housewifetheologian.com and if I decide to post it, I will give you the credit.  Why don’t you have a crack at using our word in a sentence in the comment section…could be interesting.

This week’s word is:

Cacophony--You know, that edacious noise your kids are making in the back of the car when you're trying to drive (or, any other disagreeably discordant sounds)!