Theology is Meant to Help Us Love

I was not your typical middle school girl. I was more into books and studying than I was into boys. At fourteen I was already reading Sproul, Calvin, and Packer. I could explain the five points of Calvinism and discuss the paradox of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Needless to say my head grew large and I needed to be humbled.

At eighteen I went on my first short term missions trip alone. I was meeting up with a missionary couple, Scott and Melissa, in Peru. The first few days into the trip Scott told me Melissa would be starting seminary soon.

He said, “The reason she’s going to seminary is to love Jesus more.”

My big theological young head was deflated by his piercing words. Love? I learn and study to love? His words were Sunday school simple, but exactly what I needed to hear.

Complexity is expressed in simplicity. Complex truths in Scripture are learned for the purpose of fulfilling the royal law of our King – to love God and neighbor. Our study of theology can be expressed in three simple everyday truths.

Read my three points at For the Church >>

Book Review: The Bible Story Handbook

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You ever get the feeling you’re doing something wrong? Maybe you studied long and hard for that big test, but no amount of memorized notecards can erase the sick feeling swirling in your stomach. When it comes to studying for a test it’s not just knowing the correct information that matters, but how you study the information is important too. A correct method of study is a crucial part of test preparedness.

This factor is exactly what John and Kim Walton address in The Bible Story Handbook: A Resource for Teaching 175 Stories from the Bible. (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway through their Beyond the Page program.) Sunday School teachers and parents are equipped with the information and sometimes the theology, but rarely are they equipped with the correct methodology. The purpose of the Walton’s handbook is to supply a method of study for parents and Sunday School teachers as they prepare lessons; it is meant as a supplement to a bible curriculum.

The Walton’s say:

“If the teacher desires to equip children to submit to the Bible’s authority, the teacher must model a proper method for identifying what the Bible, in its authority, teaches.”

Before delving into the 175 bible stories outlined by a lesson focus, application, biblical context, interpretational issues, background information, and mistakes to avoid section, the Waltons provide a foundation first. Answering questions like, “Why do we teach bible stories?” “Is there a right and wrong way to use bible stories?” and “What is the big picture of the bible?”

These first few chapters in the book challenged me personally in how I approach God’s Word on a daily basis. Am I submitted to the authority inherent in scripture? Or do I use scripture to enhance my own agenda? The old and new testament bible stories are not just filled with characters that are models for good and bad behavior, but each story is ultimately about God. All of scripture is God revealing himself to us through varying means. According to the Walton’s,

“Sunday school lessons must not focus on the human actors at the expense of God’s self-revelation.”

More important than “action points” in a story are the “belief points.” In the Walton’s own words:

“As we learn stories, our belief should be affected. If our belief is affected, our behavior should change.”

Not only were the first few chapters personally challenging to my own approach to scripture, but I now plan on using this resource as part of my bible homeschool curriculum. I’ll begin preschool at home this fall with my son, and I’m excited to use the Bible Story Handbook as my reference in shaping how I share bible stories with him.

I love how the Walton’s are seeking to equip parents and teachers first before the lesson reaches children. After reading it I feel equipped to teach my son the bible with a God-centered approach and not just as a moral framework for his life. I can’t wait to tell him the ultimate story that God shares with us in the bible. It’s all about my son knowing God and coming into relationship with God through Jesus.

“If we want to lead others to knowledge of God, we will tell them God’s stories beginning in their early childhood. “

Housewife Theologian Book Review

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Today housewife has become a dirty word. In Christian circles it has sometimes become a shameful thing. We can be embarrassed to admit our occupation to others. Our culture doesn’t see much value and meaning in being a housewife in comparison with working outside the home. A housewife is second rate; uneducated and imprisoned.

In her book, Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary, Aimee Byrd attempts to redeem the word housewife and transform it into something glorious; and something deeper than we make it. Byrd encourages us to think. Our days are not just about laundry and dishes, but should be rich in theology. What we know about God should be apart of the ordinary in our lives; what we know and believe should affect how we live. Byrd describes it this way:

“Truly Christian thinking involves an eternal perspective on our daily matters and contemplation of how they fit into the dogma of the drama in which God has cast us.”

Byrd explains how our femininity, beauty, identity, sexuality, self-image, sin, and attitudes are all out workings of our theological thoughts. This is so important in this day and age as we are surrounded by false teaching that impedes the calling the Lord has given us as women. Byrd teaches us how to not be ‘gullible housewives,’ who believe anything that sounds nice, but to be sharpened in our pursuit of Christian thinking.

Self-Image and Identity

Some of my favorite portions in the book cover self-image and identity. These two issues are typically areas of deception for women. A lot of the lies our culture promotes about these two topics sound pretty truthful. Today you can hear people talking about finding themselves. Feeling lost, like they have no purpose; trying to figure out who they are. It’s not just non-Christians that feel this way, but many Christians.
My only question about these feelings are: Where are you right now?

One of my heroes, Jim Elliot, says this,

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Wherever God has you right now, whatever place, position, or season, is exactly God’s will for you. If we examine our doctrine and truly believe God is sovereign, then we know where we are and what we are doing now is God’s will for us. We don’t have to travel the world or take a pottery class to find ourselves. If we are in the Word of God, we know who we are and who we belong to.

I love the quote from C.S. Lewis in Byrd’s book. It truly summarizes this issue in our culture of finding self:

“The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life, and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end . . . and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will really be yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

Identity and Idolatry

When it comes to our identity as women, idolatry is not far behind. It’s easy for us to make ultimate things out of good things, as Byrd describes it. It’s also easy for us to find something to attach ourselves to; something that identifies us. Then we end up looking to that thing as our source of happiness. When it’s taken away we respond in sin.

If we are studying and thinking through God’s Word and taking part in Church fellowship we will be setting ourselves up for idol exposing and killing. What are those things that are not Christ that we are looking to fulfill us? To make us happy? To give us purpose? Maybe it’s having a successful career? Getting rich? Maybe being a good housewife? Maybe it’s having a job outside of the home or not having a job outside the home? Maybe it’s looks?

Maybe we need to look for Christ to identify us. We do that when we are faithful housewife theologians who study the Word of God with rigorous discipline and humble prayers for grace. We are true to ourselves (as our culture calls it) when we immerse ourselves in Christ. We follow our dreams (again a modern cultural saying) when we discover the ultimate dream that is Christ himself.

He is our treasure and pearl of great price. Christ defines us as women and shows us that true value, worth, and meaning is found in losing ourselves and finding Him.