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 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 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)!

Posted on Sunday, May 08, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Marriage To a Difficult Man, by Elisabeth D. Dodds (Audubon Press, 2004)

My husband was a bit troubled when my friend, Dana, gave me this book along with Journey to Hell for my 30th birthday.  Despite the tricky title, this book recounts the wonderful marriage of Sarah and Jonathan Edwards.  I love reading about the wives of such great men!  Sarah Edwards went through a time of mental anguish (January of 1742) that Dodds delicately recounts in chapter eight.  I’m so glad she did, because it is a picture of God’s magnificent grace that can be very much applied to women today.   Here are some of the changes that came out of it:

Sarah Edwards stopped straining to please God and began to live in the assurance of a salvation she didn’t have to try to deserve.  She stopped pushing herself to be worthy of Edward’s love and from then on had his unreserved admiration.  Before, onlookers had considered her a saint but her husband knew she wasn’t.  Afterward, Edward’s marveled at her “constant sweet peace, calm and serenity of soul”…

…so we still cannot be sure whether she had a religious transport, a nervous breakdown, or whether the two were mingled.  But the evidence is clear that after whatever it was, Sarah picked up life again, and went on as before, but in a new dimension of joy.  Her own words may explain it.  She said it left her with “the riches of full assurance.”  She recalled how, midway in that peculiar week, she awoke and “…was lead to reflect on God’s mercy to me in giving me, for many years, a willingness to die, and after that…in making me willing to live.”

The neurotic martyr is ready to die.  The greater valor is to be willing to live. (108-109)

I don’t need to have suffered a mental break (but my husband may argue it’s already happened on several occasions) to fully relate to Sarah’s reflection.  I find myself suffering all the time from “martyr syndrome.”  I could not imagine what being the wife of Jonathan Edward’s and mother of eleven children would demand of me.  My reading reflection theme seems to be self-righteousness lately, but I believe women can fall into that trap so easily.  We become proud and smarmy in our so-called self-giving.  And when we see its ugliness, it is too much to bear.  But the gospel revives us into a knowledge of the One who truly did give all of Himself, for smarmy ol’ me.  How can I not be filled with joy as I glorify the Giver of all that I need?  Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted on Friday, May 06, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

On my Confessions page, I mentioned that I finally broke down and joined Facebook at the same time I started my blog.  It seemed pretty necessary for sharing my articles with friends and hoping they would share with their other friends.  Also, the whole like button was such a mystery to me, but was seemingly an important element for bloggers to have.  After all my curious investigating and weighing the different like options to incorporate on my site, I’ve decided I just don’t like the like button.  I think it’s tacky.  I’ll tell you why.

First of all, what if the like button was used in actual conversation?  How offensive would that be?  After a friend or acquaintance shares about their weekend, bar fight, or actual deep thought, the popularity police decide whether they will cast their vote.  Is this what democracy has come to?  You don’t have to comment on the truth or value of what is said, just say like.  And of course there’s no dislike button, because that would be pernicious.  All I’m saying is just because it’s a positive word, doesn’t really make it a positive action.

Speaking of truth, that appears to be completely irrelevant.  As we become more and more accustomed to the like culture, we begin to forget to ask important, discerning questions in our so-called conversations.  The value is in the entertaining and accomplishing while meaningfulness is cavalierly tossed out the window.  Instead of standing for truth, we are feeding into our sinful tendency to compare ourselves with others.  How many people like what I just said?  Sassy Susie gets liked up and down, but Sassy Susie maybe just talks a lot about nothing.  We begin to calculate the value of what we say by the number of likes we receive, rather than the actual content.

Additionally, the more we push that like button, the more we may feed our own illusion of power.  Immediately published on Sassy Susie’s post: “Aimee likes this, along with 13 other people.”  Well, if Aimee likes it, it must be good.  I’ve just endorsed someone else’s published material.  I am actually creating my own amateur Facebook status on what is cool to like.  Really, what’s going on beneath all our playful, self-indulgent, liking banter ruse is the fact that it’s all a marketing ploy.  Is it a coincidence that I liked a fitness website and now I get ads run on my page for losing weight and breast implants?  I don’t know, maybe some exercising comments I made contributed.  But the point is, advertisers are trying to customize to our liking.  Every commercial on TV now wants us to like them on Facebook.  Their crazy computer spiders (how creepy is that?) skulk on our every cyber-move and pounce in with the customized add.  Liking a website is their free ticket to advertise their latest sell.

For a while I was getting sucked in.  Many websites have a Facebook Social Plugin in their sidebar showing the number of people who like them, along with nine or so smiling, rotating profile faces of their so-called fan club.  This is beneficial for traffic, because a new viewer will see how happening your site is and want to join the inside circle.  It feeds a temptation we all have to want to be part of some elite group.  Plus, one day your profile pic will be on that rotating display.  And I can publish my own popularity as a blogger: this many people like me, you should too!  Well, I’ve decided against it.  I’ve always believed smart people don’t have to tell others they’re smart, and beautiful people don’t need to advertise.  They just are.  Exploitation is ugly, and usually used by those lacking in the very thing they are trying to sell.  Well liked people don’t need to brag about how many friends they have, and besides, it’s not always a good thing to be well liked.  So, like me or not, I’m going to say what I say.  I might not attract a bunch of followers, but I encourage the readers I do have to leave thoughtful comments, be more engaging, and even dislike in your feedback if you think I need some sharpening.  And if you really do like what I have to say, please use the share button, which I think is much more helpful.

Am I saying it’s bad to just simply like things? No.  Am I saying the like button is evil and we should all boycott it?  No.  There’s no command in the Bible on like buttons.  I am challenging you to think a bit deeper on your liking motives, as well as urging you to ask yourself: can I be more engaging in this conversation?  Am I just being lazy in my relationships?  Is this statement true?  And I’m not saying that it’s wrong for websites and bloggers to promote themselves.  We need to if we want to bring people to our site.  But I do think that sometimes we sacrifice our own classiness by feeding this whole celebrity-obsessed cultural hunger.  There has to be some better ways.

Meditation: 1 Thess. 2:4