I confess that when I started reading Housewife Theologian I had a hard time getting into it. Then I reached the end of Chapter 3 in which Byrd states one of the reasons she wrote this book and everything changed for me, the reader. She wrote:
"I have a lot of growing to do in this area of the Christian mind, and I need to discuss it with others who are also interested and concerned. Furthermore, I think that every Christian has this desire, but we are ill equipped and confused about how to integrate our lives with our faith. Too often, when I try to relate a Christian truth to practice in "regular life," a blank look falls on the faces of those around me and I hear the sound of crickets in the background. I may be right or I may be wrong about whatever it is that I have said, but either way, no one seems to even want to have the conversation." (Chapter 3, Do You Mind, p. 68)
Upon reading that, I felt like Aimee Byrd and I were made to be friends. At least on paper. Because I frequently feel the same sense of loneliness.
Byrd writes this book with several purposes in mind. First and foremost, she wishes to convey to women (specifically housewives) the importance of studying theology. She recognizes that there seems to be an aversion to learning theology these days. Perhaps we think that doing so will require too much of our time. Or, perhaps we worry about the possibility of hurting whatever remaining brain cells we have left and in our efforts not to inflict unnecessary injury to ourselves, we avoid the hard work of thought. We also we may think of the study of theology as being something that would cause great division among our peers (not to mention society) and so it is better that we leave off thoughts of God and a Christian worldview. If we do not learn about Who God is or what He expects of us, then we won't know what we're doing wrong (if anything!), right? Nothing will have to change. (Whew!) In response to whatever excuses we might dig up, she asks a good question:
"We are responsible for our own learning. If God has communicated to us through His Word and we do not bother to study it, don't you think that we will be held accountable for what we do not know, as well as for what we do?
I want to be careful not to stereotype all of us Christian women as non-thinkers. However, I do think that as a whole we need to do some self-examination on what we are settling to know, or more importantly, not to know about our Creator and the world He made for us." (Chapter 3, Do You Mind, p. 57)
After Byrd lays it out on the table as to one of her chief motivators in writing this book, I was all in for the ride. It bothers me how little people seem to care to know God as accurately as possible. It bothers me that these same people are happy to let me get away with knowing as little as possible as well. The iron is dull. I worry for them; I worry for me. Books such as this one fill me with hope because it reminds me that I'm not all together alone. (And I'm not really alone as it is, but sometimes it feels that way.)
Byrd really does not pull any punches (she has a nice book cover to hide behind!) in talking about why it is important that we learn about God, why it is absolutely necessary beyond all excuses that we be part of a church community, why we should embrace the differences between men and women (acknowledging equality, celebrating diversity!), creating beauty, the importance of hard work and why we should not give in to mediocrity. She hits upon just about every topic I can think of that are of interest and importance to women.
Probably the most "exciting" thing in the book to me was her emphasis on the importance of church attendance. Be forewarned: I have passionate feelings on this topic. I want to preface everything I am about to say by telling you that when I was growing up my dad was in leadership positions in our church. We suffered a very severe church split with some horrifying false accusations thrown into the mix. I suffered a deep depression as a result of these accusations and the fall-out for nearly two years in my late teens/early twenties because of the hurt. However! My dad read the Bible and understood that he had an obligation to obey it and to keep attending church whether he felt like doing so or not. And so for two years my dad had to "preach it" to me as to why it was important that I went even if my emotions were telling me to stay home and keep away from such a hurtful place. But here's the thing - if Christ said His church is important and is the vehicle He by which He intends to share His message of salvation with the world, then it is in my best interest not to decide to shun it. Rather, I should be eager to cling to it!
I feel like the time has come to start sharing my background story with the church because I am hearing more and more excuses these days as to why people feel that they cannot be a part of the Body of Christ. (No, its not just about "attending church." It's about being a part of the Body.) Some people say that they are too busy. (So prioritize. What wins out over corporate worship?) I've heard that good churches are too far away from home. (So organize life that you may incorporate a drive into your Sunday routine. Or move! Being a part of a good church is a valid reason to move.) Some people say that they are too tired after their busy week. (So clear your schedule. Arrange your schedule to incorporate worship. Is this too much of God to ask of you?) I've heard that the church is full of hypocrites. (Yeah? Well, you're one too. Especially if you say that you believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and yet you refuse to obey the command to assemble with other believers and worship God. So join in with the rest of the sinners and hypocrites!) Or still, some say that they don't want to go to church because they've been hurt in one in the past. To that I say: "So. what?!"
"The gospel message is something outside us. When we get caught up in our week's activities, we tend to go back to that default of looking to ourselves. We need the covenant renewal ceremony that we are given each Sabbath day. Here we are reminded that church "is the exclusive site of God's covenanted blessings in Christ." It is "Holy time (Sabbath) and holy space (temple)" that serve as "coordinates for the covenant people." Under the preaching of God's Word, I am stripped naked by the law and clothed in the grace of the gospel. I need that interruption in my weekly life. Horton describes the worship service as a sort of dress rehearsal. On Sunday I can have a taste of the glory that is to come, basking in the Lord Jesus Christ's redemptive rule." (Chapter 10, What About Sunday?, p. 193)
Somehow we've made church to be about Us.
But guess what?
It's not about us.
It's about Him. He set aside a day of the week for you to come and worship Him with other Christians. Christ said that the Church is His Bride. (Do you dare reject Christ's bride? I'm just asking the question because it needs to be asked.) Where can you learn more about God and develop your understanding of Him? At church, of course! A place where the Word of God is supposed to be correctly taught, listened to and applied to your life because it is relevant even if we like to pretend that it isn't.
Yes, I am being pointed... I feel like I have to be because much time is being wasted by many people who are ignoring the church because they've forgotten that it's not about them, it's about God and His Word. No more excuses.
I could go on with this and other topics from Housewife Theologian but I'll stop there. I had plenty to learn from it and be encouraged by. I also appreciated that it inspired me to dive back deeper in the Word, even if I feel like I'm diving in alone from time to time. But the real truth is - I'm not diving in alone and there are women out there who care and who are constantly developing in their faith. Several of you are reading this post care for these very things and challenge me regularly (a fact I so very much appreciate!). This book merely encourages us in our journey to know more of Christ. As we women need all of the encouragement we can get to pursue the things of God, I say buy this book, spread the word and get that iron sharped up so that we can get about the business of encouraging one another and building each other up.
Many thanks to P&R Publishing who sent a copy of this book in order to facilitate a review. All opinions are my own (if you wondered) and I received no further compensation for this post.
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNERS (as selected by Random.org) ARE:
#23 - Stephanie S.
#14 - Sherry D.
#4 - Janna
Congrats to these ladies! I think you will all really enjoy it! And as for the rest of you, I hope you DO find a copy and give this one a read!