Now in Reformed circles, my church in particular, the topic of sin and the fact of sin is dealt with. Elders deal with church discipline of individuals, and we have a "congregational prayer of confession". I am drawn in corporate worship to consider sin in my life. As I pour over Scripture both on Sunday and throughout the week, I am convicted.
The Journaling Questions from chapter eight, pp. 166-167 of Housewife Theologian, are in red and my answers are in black.
- Define some areas in your life in which you struggle with autonomy--for example, in your relationships, worship, your schedule, or others. Autonomy means to go it alone, to buck up and do the deed. However, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Before my devotional life wasn't consistent because I didn't want to become "legalistic"! Often I would not be in prayer for the worship service and for a quiet heart to hear what I needed to hear. I would critique the sermon, or the music, or the form of the service.
- How does our role as women, particularly in our call to submit to our husbands, give us an advantage for this struggle for autonomy? Whenever possible I try to draw my husband into decisions. Now this is difficult in that he is going downhill with dementia.
- Have you been downplaying the sin in your own life? No, as I explained above I have been more aware of it since joining a Reformed church. We have all gone astray (Isaiah 53:6), but the good news of the gospel is that the LORD will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7). Some signs that this many be true could be that you feel weird even saying the word sin out loud, much less confessing to the particulars, or find it hard or unimportant to ask for forgiveness. I tried to apologize to a neighbor who was offended by me and he said he doesn't believe in forgiveness. Even my apology, though, was tainted by sin. I wanted to look better in his eye--my pride.
- Does your church consistently encourage by the gospel? Not sure of the meaning of this question. Do the members hold one another accountable and exercise biblical church discipline for the purpose of restoration? Yes. Or does everyone feel comfortable in his or her current spiritual state and efforts? I do not know. I am uncomfortable with some of the doctrinal debates that tend to rise up on Reformed blogs and even on this blog: views of the end time, exclusive Psaltry in worship and celebration of Christmas have been debated here. I feel there is doctrinal pride that is ugly and I may be part of it. I think of Euodia and Syntyche whom Paul told to agree in the LORD in Philippians 2. Theology has had a bad taste in my mouth at times and this is why I am rethinking with Aimee's book.
- Is there a time in your life when you can recall choosing affliction over sin, or choosing sin over affliction? Restoring a relationship was a difficult process. I had to lay down my expectations, repent and keep praying. What was the outcome, both circumstantially and spiritually? In the LORD's timing that relationship was restored. I could not have engineered it. Was it what you expected? Not at all--very grateful.
- Over by the side of my house, I have a crazy weed that grows on a vine. It appears to be but a few small teasers, but when I go to pick it I discover a whole underground system hidden under the mulch. This reminds me of how interconnected our sin is. It has hidden networks that build a strong base. I might want to uproot a sin in my life, and find how it has spread like cancer. Think of a particular sin that you have been flirting with. Imagine what it would look like in full bloom, if God were to leave you in it. When my husband was diagnosed with dementia, I was angry and my anger turned to depression. Gradually I came to accept the situation. Can any sin be small when we compare it to what it cost our Savior? Thank you, LORD, for your willing suffering for my sins so that You can restore a right relationship within me. On to a gardening analogy from our life, we have a volunteer who is transforming our yard. Yesterday he worked on the front yard. That transformation is just lovely--like God's grace in dealing with us.
- Now think about the "old man" that you once were . . . the things you valued as important . . . what you loved. Compare that to how far Christ has already brought you . . . a whole new world--the age to come! Read Romans 7:15-25. Can you identify with Paul's relationship to sin here? Yes How is it different from before your conversion? I was seven and just remember I had a sense of relief that Jesus was in my life.
- How is your theology practical in your everyday life? This is the whole theme of Aimee's book--theology is practical (p. 157). I have not thought of this concept. For me theology had become ugly. Some of this ugliness in chronicled on this blog. I do not like when people do not get along theologically. BUT IF I CAN REFRAME IT INTO RIGHT LIVING AND RIGHT DOCTRINE, THEN IT IS PRACTICAL.
- What have you disguised some of your sin as? Emotions, depression, coping rather than trusting that God is in control. Self-esteem is just a disguise for pride.
- How is our eschatology important to the way we look at the world and our own sin? I have come to not like the term eschatology because I have seen it cause doctrinal fights within the church.
- What role does Sunday morning worship play in our spiritual growth? Sunday morning worship has become Sunday afternoon worship at our church. Now Sunday morning I have more time to prepare for the afternoon worship, including preparing for communion which we celebrate every LORD's day. Preparation for communion includes dealing with sin.
Thank you, Aimee Byrd, for helping me reframe theology in my life with your book.