The Dancing Puritan

Monday, September 30, 2013

Housewife Theologian: Interview with Aimee Byrd



Today we welcome to The Dancing Puritan, Aimee Byrd, author of Housewife Theologian (HT). HT is published by P&R Publishers and is available by sending us a message here.  Without further delay, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy our conversation with Aimee.

DP: Aimee, you are described on the cover of your book as "an ordinary mom of three." G.K. Chesterton wrote: "The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” Tell us about your ordinary family.

AB: It is in the ordinary, everyday living that God shows us his extraordinary blessings in Christ. There is nothing particularly distinctive about my family and our vocations, which I guess is what makes us ordinary. My husband, Matt, has been a public school teacher for twenty years. We have three children: a daughter who just started high school, a daughter who just began middle school, and a son in the third grade. With all their involvement in church, sports, social activities, and school, these days I am asking myself if it is ordinary to have a schedule that challenges your sanity?


DP:  Is, "HT" your first book?  How long have you been a writer?  What is your premise in HT?

AB: I actually never considered myself a writer until I signed my contract with P&R for Housewife Theologian. I’ve always loved to write, but it was my passion to get women thinking and talking about theology, that led to the book. I kind of tested the waters by starting my blog, www.housewifetheologian.com, and now it seems as though I can’t not write! The premise of my book is that every married woman is a housewife and every person is a theologian.

DP: You mention that your book is for women.  If a husband were to pick up your book and read, what could he gain? What do you think that every husband should know about his own HT?

AB:  The number of men sending me messages about how they are enjoying my book has pleasantly surprised me. But, by far, the best reaction from a man that read my book would be an article that my project manager wrote:  Here  It’s worth clicking over to the article just for the picture alone…should have been the cover! On a more serious note, so many of the issues I discuss in the book are important for both men and women. But a husband reading the book will also gain insight on the particular struggles that his wife may be facing as she tries to live out her faith day to day.

DP: Aimee, certainly you know that studying theology is for highbrow old guys who wear tweed, smoke pipes, and live in ivory towers (or hidden away in basements). Are you attempting to dismantle those towers and put those stuffy old guys on the street?

AB:  Busted. I certainly appreciate professional theologians, but my goal is to raise awareness that every person is a theologian. Jesus prays in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (emphasis mine). Theology is the study of God, knowing God. We all have a theology and we all live accordingly. The question is, are we good theologians or bad ones? This is an eternal matter!

DP: Now that you are an accomplished theologian, do you anticipate taking Dr. Carl Trueman's job at Westminster Theological Seminary?

AB:  Busted again. The first stage of my coup is to sabotage Dr. Trueman’s job as co-host on the Mortification of Spin podcast. From there I intend to move right in Westminster as the new Paul Woolley Professor of Church History. 

DP:  You are a mother of two daughters. My wife and I have six daughters. What are a couple of the most important lessons that we can pass on to our daughters from your book?

AB:  Sounds like you and your wife could teach me a thing or two, Ray! One thing that I wanted to emphasize in my book is that issues like beauty, identity, and sexuality are very important to God. In fact, they tell a story that points us to our Creator and Redeemer. In writing the book, I really hoped to create a tool that would help women learn this for ourselves and discuss it with our daughters.

Aimee will be back with us tomorrow as we discuss femininity, C.S. Lewis, The Lord’s Day, help for Christian women who are married to non-Christians, and more very interesting topics for ladies and gentlemen.  Tune in tomorrow for part two of our interview with Aimee Byrd, author of Housewife Theologian. Available here and where all good books are sold. Visit Aimee at www.housewifetheologian.com



Housewife Theologian Video

Ray Rhodes, Jr. writes for The Dancing Puritan. He is the author of Family Worship for the Reformation Season, The Marriage Bed, and other books on the family. Ray is the President of Nourished in the Word Ministries and serves as Pastor of Grace Community Church of North Georgia. Ray is married to Lori and they live in North Georgia with their six daughters, one son-in-law, and one granddaughter. To contact or schedule Ray to speak for your next event contact him here. Check out the blog of Lori Rhodes here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friendship: A Place of Sanity



In David's disintegrating world there was one place of sanity, one refuge still in tact--Jonathan
Dale Ralph Davis

The young David, with the hand of God upon him, had loaded the sling and killed the giant. As a result he was summoned to stand before King Saul. He came, hands drenched in blood, carrying the head of Goliath. Saul and David had conversation. Listening in was Saul's son Jonathan. Jonathan was in line to the throne and was already a rescuer of Israel. He was beloved, proven, and faithful. What he saw and what he heard that day gripped him down deep inside.

Jonathan's heart was "knit to the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul" (I Samuel 18:1). Jonathan was older than David and yet he sought David out and made a covenant with him. 

As Saul continued to turn away from God, so did he continue to lose his sanity. Instead of bringing David to his bosom to love, he sought to kill David. In contrast, Jonathan sought to protect David. Saul was jealous. Jonathan was not. Saul saw David as a threat. Jonathan embraced David as a friend. God was with David, even as Saul "eyed" him.  Saul's mind unraveled and was even willing to use his daughter Michal as a means of destroying David. Saul was afraid because he knew that God was with David. God granted David favor with all of Israel.

When David was on the run, in fear of his life, Jonathan interceded for David. As the danger grew, Jonathan renewed his covenant with David. When it was abundantly clear to Jonathan that Saul was intent on killing David, Jonathan said:
Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.' And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city (I Samuel 20:42).
Lessons about friendship abound in the Jonathan and David story. Jonathan the older warrior and David the up-and-coming leader were knit together in a bond that was so deep and so high that it transcended the bond of family blood. The explanation for their friendship is found in the covenant faithfulness of God. Jonathan's commitment to friendship is staggering to consider. He made a covenant with David that involved giving his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt to David (19:4). Jonathan, in line to the throne,  cleared a pathway so that David could ultimately become King. Jonathan, the greater, emptied himself so that David, the lesser, could be protected and exalted. His love was sealed by covenant.

Are you the kind of friend, willing to sacrifice your own interests for the interests of your friends? Is your soul knit to theirs in love? Do you have such a friend?  There is a friend who left heaven's glories, became a servant, and laid his life down for his friends. His name is Jesus. His friendship will be your "one place of sanity" your "one refuge still in tact" in the midst of a world groaning under the burden of sin. David had to trust that Jonathan would be faithful to his covenant. Jonathan was rock-solid-reliable. A greater than Jonathan stands ready to give you a friendship that is sealed in the covenant of blood.

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Coming on Monday: Part one of our interview with Aimee Byrd, author of Housewife Theologian. Visit Aimee Here.

Starting Today: Live Streaming of The Romantic Rationalist: C.S. Lewis Conference at Desiring God. Here

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Emptiness of Life and the Fullness of Christ



"It is all empty,” the old preacher said.
We are born and live, but soon we are dead.
The sun it shines; the wind it blows.
Oceans never filled; though the stream, it flows.

Same old thing, day after day;
The world is so tired, but what can we say?
Never satisfied; it is never enough.
"Stack it high, and get more stuff."

Nothing new, the songs are so old.
The summers are hot, the winters so cold.
No one remembers; no one will care.
Just walk into the dark; and embrace your despair.

Search and look; see if you can find,
Traces that remain that they left behind.
Their names are recalled but they are not here.
Seldom a dream and rarely a tear.

Just a shell, which will soon be gone;
She will be left here and be all-alone.
But not for long, for she is on the same train.
Riding the circuit for reaons no one cannot explain.

You see nothing changes, it just goes around.
The voices are all different but still the same sound.
The crooked remains, not to be made straight.
Death is soon coming, there is no escape.

Chasing the wind and trying to grasp;
A meaningful future that is locked in the past;
Such is life now, here under the sun.
It is over in a second; it had hardly begun.
Thoughts on Ecclesiastes Chapter One


What is the purpose of Ecclesiastes? 
It is to bring out into clear view, the chief good–the true happiness of man, in what it does not consist–not in the wisdom, pleasures, honors, and riches of the world–in what it does consist–the enjoyment and service of God.  Beggars we are, with all of the riches of the Indies, without Him. He is the substitute for everything. Nothing can be a substitute for Him. The world is full of graspers–and alas; they grasp in vain. They only draw in air. They know not where the true substance lies–in Him–the supreme good and satisfying portion–in His service–no hard and gloomy exercise but full of liberty and joy. Charles Bridges



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Friends: Joined With Hand and Heart

My friend, I join you with hand and heart. 
Clark of Lewis and Clark Fame 

Reading Comrades by Stephen Ambrose has been a great experience. Often missing in all of the conversation about manhood that pervades our culture, is the cultivation of friendship among men.  Ambrose, a big fan of Lewis and Clark, writes about their friendship. President Jefferson commissioned Lewis to lead the now famous western expedition. Lewis wanted his old friend to join him in the effort and wrote a letter inviting Clark to be that man. Clark responded, "My friend, I join you with hand and Heart" (p.101, Comrades).

Clark's comments are a great description of what friendship entails. Friendship is built on love (heart) and means active commitment of life (hands). True friends are companions because they want to be and therefore their duties to one another are discharged faithfully. In fact duty does not feel so much like duty to true friends. The engagement of the hands is a natural overflow of the heart filled with love. Ambrose writes:

Friendship is different from all other relationships. Unlike acquaintanceship it is based on love. Unlike lovers and married couples it is free of jealousy. Unlike children and parents it knows neither criticism nor resentment. Friendship has not status in law. Business contracts are based on a contract. So is marriage. Parents are bound by law, as are children. But friendship is freely entered into, freely given, freely exercised (p. 106, Comrades).

There may be reason to question some of the conclusions in Ambrose's comments, but he is right that "friendship is freely entered into, freely given, freely exercised." He is also right that, "unlike acquaintanceship it (friendship) is based on love.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women (David speaking of Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:26).

A man's wife should be his very best friend in the ways that she can be. Yet David was on-to-something in his comments about the love of Jonathan "surpassing the love of women." There is much that could be said concerning the context from which David uttered his words of affection for Jonathan. Suffice to say that there is something distinctive (not homosexual) about true male friendships that surpasses the friendship between a man and his wife. On that level man-to-man friendships are better than man-to-woman friendships. In the larger context, the marriage relationship (when one does not have the gift of singleness), is superior to man-to-man friendship.  The friendships are not the same, however. In the ways that they are not the same, they surpass one another. For example a husband is called to love, lead, protect, and provide for his wife. His wife responds to that kind of loving leadership but she cannot fully grasp it the way another man, committed to the same thing, can. She sees the burdens that her husband must bear but she cannot enter into those burdens and joys in the ways that a male friend can. The same is true in the reverse.

We need friendships. We need those who are joined hand and heart with us. We need to be joined hand and heart with others. There will only be opportunity for a few friends like that. Yet there must be those few, those three friends that will strengthen the cord of heart and hand amidst the battles of life. Yet it is not only in battle that we need friends. We also need friends in laughter.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Friendship: A Main Course in Life's Banquet

Is it vital to have friends or is friendship optional? C.S. Lewis, when comparing the esteem in which Affection or Eros are held in contrast to Friendship, writes: But very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value or even a love at all.  He goes on to say:

We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few 'friends.' But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceship which those who make it would describes as 'friendships' show clearly that what they are talking about has very little to do with the Philia which Aristotle classified among the virtues or that Amicitia on which Cicero wrote a book. It is something quite marginal; not a main course in life's banquet; a diversion; something that fills up the chinks of one's time.

According to the Bible friendship is not to be just something that "fills up the chinks of one's time." Friendship is "a main course in life's banquet." God was man's first friend but He was not to be man's only friend. God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18). Everything that God created was declared to be good, except the situation of Adam being alone. Being alone was not good. Therefore God remedied the not good by creating someone that would make the bad situation a good one. God made woman and brought her to the man.

Though it is sometimes the will of God for man to be alone (in the sense of remaining single instead of getting married) marriage is overwhelmingly the norm. And one of the first functions of marriage is to cure the problem of loneliness. Working the garden takes on new meaning when there is an Eve at the side of an Adam. Even when God gives the good gift of singleness, which requires a man or a woman to be alone in the sense of marriage, it is not his design that they live life alone.

From Genesis through Revelation it is obvious that we are designed to live in community with others. The New Testament describes individuals in the church as members of a body. The body is made up of various parts, and all are necessary (Ephesians 4:15-16). The parts work for the benefit of the whole. It is simply rebellion when one member of a body ignores the other members of the body. It is also foolish because when one member is out of whack, the entire body is hurt, and the one member hurts himself.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We are an individualistic people. Such a philosophy is evident when we counsel a person, "you've got to do what is best for yourself." What about community? What about church? What about neighbors? What about extended family? What if "what is best for yourself" causes you not to consider the interests of others? What if it results in you isolating yourself from those who would lift you up and keep you warm?  Then the words of Genesis will haunt you "It is not good that the man should be alone."

You are not the whole. You are a part, a member of a community. Friendship is not an option. Nor is friendship a duty that is to be embraced with a frown. Friendship is "a main course in life's banquet."




Monday, September 2, 2013

A Simple Way to Pray


Martin Luther’s barber was a man by the name of Peter Beskendorf. Peter asked Luther to teach him to pray. Luther’s response was a wonderful letter (booklet) in which he lays out for Peter “A Simple Way to Pray.”

Most of us would readily admit that sometimes prayer seems anything but simple. Luther, in fact, addresses some of the struggles one faces when attempting to pray. He writes, “It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you ‘Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour, first I must attend to this or that. Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.”

Can you relate? You think about praying but some matter enters your mind and you delay prayer for an hour. The hour turns into two and before you know it an entire day passes without concentrated prayer. Luther reminds us that prayer should be a priority when he says, “let prayer be the first business of the morning.”

Luther goes on to warn against becoming “lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer. The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer.”

When we engage in prayer we enter an arena of battle. We must be careful to fight against sin and our disinclination to prayer. We fight by faith in Christ and with a commitment to His Word.

In “A Simple Way to Pray” Luther gives instruction on how to prayer by using The Lord’s Prayer, The Ten Commandments, and The Apostle’s Creed. In his instruction, the context of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century is obvious. When Luther prays that God’s name would be hallowed he prays, “Destroy and root out the abominations, idolatry, and heresy…of the pope, and all false teachers and fanatics who wrongly use thy name and in scandalous ways take it in vain and horribly blaspheme it…”

However, let us not think that Luther’s only desire was that the enemies of true Christianity be destroyed, for he prayed as well “Dear Lord God, convert and restrain [them]. Convert those who are still to be converted that they with us and we with them may hallow and praise thy name, both with true and pure doctrine and with a good and holy life. Restrain those who are unwilling to be converted so that they be forced to cease from misusing, deviling and dishonoring thy holy name and from misleading the poor people. Amen”

“A Simple Way to Pray” is an interesting and helpful study on prayer. As well it opens a door into the situation of the Reformers who fought against the abuses of the religious establishment of the 16th century. If you read Luther's book you will find helpful instruction on how to pray, warnings concerning the struggles of prayer and encouragements to be faithful to “pray without ceasing.” You will also get a snapshot into the friendship of Martin Luther and his barber
.