Every Woman a Theologian
— Letting Go of “Functional” Faith —
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Dear friend,
“I don't like poetry.”
“I just want to get to the point.”
Pragmatism is a dagger to a poet's heart. I suppose that's true for any artist: You put your work on display, hoping to inspire, and instead hear a muttered: “I don't get it," as viewers walk away. So you try again a different way, with a different medium or different words. Maybe this time they'll see how words point you to the sky and the sky points you to God! Maybe this time, in the rhythm of the stanza and the rhyme that beats beneath they'll remember that storing up more practical knowledge isn't what life is all about.
How do you reach pragmatic people with a more romantic faith? A faith that is more than just theological knowledge memorized but is instead theological truth built into gothic arches, woven into timeless songs, restrained in poetic rhythm, and hidden in harmless story?
American Christians - it seems - are most interested in faith resources that “get to the point”. And their walk with God reflects this. American are all about rushing the “point” - getting the information in and just doing it, Nike style.
But I don't think this is what faith as described in Scripture has ever been - and if you're currently dissatisfied in your walk with God, this type of “functional faith” might be why.
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Functional faith is interested in the nuts and bolts. Functional faith even likes theology (which is what we do here at Every Woman a Theologian!). Functional faith wants to “get to the point” of walking with God, master it, and move on. This kind of faith looks at Christianity as a kind of leveling-up into greater and greater maturity. It's true that Scripture calls us to maturity (Hebrews 5-6), but it never does so at the cost of intimacy. 
The God of the Bible brings about maturity through intimacy. And intimacy is slow. It rarely “gets to the point”, yet somehow, in pursuing closeness with the God who made us, the point is gotten.
How do you know you've fallen into functional faith?
  • You skip over Bible passages that you can't quickly apply or find a quippy verse to take through the day.
  • You don't enjoy the Psalms or more reflective passages because they don't give specific directives.
  • You aren't really interested in worship music or poetic approaches to theology. You prefer to only approach God intellectually.
  • Your primary spiritual discipline is being in the Word, but the other disciplines - intimate prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, reflection, adoration of God - are rarely employed.
There is of course room for our diverse personalities. But let me speak to you as a more “intellectual”, justice-seeking person. You are missing out on the fullness of faith when you allow your pragmatism to reduce God.
Pragmatism makes God small. Its best friend, cynicism, sees that small God and makes people bigger. Cynicism can't see the forest of goodness for the trees of human failure; because God is so small, so unable to be good, true, and beautiful, so inaccessible and unenjoyable, people must replace Him. But when you make people big, their inevitable failures will also be big - big enough to crush you. People-worshipers are always cynics.
God-worshipers always have hope.
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A pragmatic, functional faith does not see the world through hope-filled eyes. It is only interested in obeying God because of duty, or fear, or even a ho-hum, misplaced contentment - a refusal to lift up the eyes to the hills. 
How do you cure a functional faith? 
By taking time for beauty. By taking time for nature, art, song, Psalm, and prayer. By learning intimacy with God, not just facts about Him. By learning to walk by His actual voice, not by the voice of a pastor. By learning that the quiet place in your spirit, between you and the Lord, is the most sacred place in the world.
Stop trying to “get to the point” and understand what the point IS: the point is walking with Him, every hour of every day, abiding in Him. Living attached. Living favored. 
When you do this you'll be surprised to find that your Christian maturity grows by leaps and bounds because maturity is not achieved through intellect but through intimacy.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121
The summer collection launched this weekend! Be sure to check out our new line in Verity Home, new kids books in Faithful Kids, and four new Quick Theology books - plus the spiral bound Revelation study! 
Latest Podcast Interviews

Here's a round up of podcast episodes I've done lately:
Sharing Truth in a Post-Christian Culture: Christian Woman Leadership Podcast
My Truth v. The Truth: Honest Pod (I also talk about navigating Scripture when it has been used to abuse and manipulate and how to understand the wrath of God)
Overcoming Pornography by Knowing Identity: Liberator Podcast
How to Think Theologically About Everything: Alisa Childers Podcast
Every Mom a Theologian: Don't Mom Alone
My Five Faves

  • Don't gag: Snail mucin is my latest moisturizer. My friend Regina (who planned the Italy writing retreat I hosted in April) said it's “the thing” to try so I grabbed it in a little Italian shop. The texture is… weird. But it leaves my skin SO soft and it's never been clearer. I use Native face wash beforehand. This looks similar to what I use.
  • Opal: I've been using this phone blocking app for about a month now. It takes some getting used to, but a month in I am really liking it. It's way more effective than Apple's built-in limits and you can set your blocks of time to be off certain apps to different levels of intensity (if you're tempted to skip, a deep work setting won't allow you to). I am constantly evaluating phone use since I work a LOT from my phone - taking product photos, filming reels, posting to different sites. Opal has helped with that. Check it out in the App Store.
  • Evening routine: I don't get the Sunday Scaries (I love Mondays and plan for the week each Sunday night) but I HATE evenings. I don't know why, but when nighttime comes around I not only don't like it, I also don't want to go to bed - a terrible conundrum! I needed a good evening routine so I could be up bright and early to get a good start on the day. My friend Amy Gannett gave me some ideas and I've been slowly adding things to the evening that I really enjoy: reading War and Peace, doing a quick Lindywell Pilates routine, and showering.
  • Our new olive wood rolling pin: this new Verity Home rolling pin is beautiful and perfect for rolling out cinnamon rolls, homemade pasta, or biscuits! Our Verity Home line is designed to provide ethical, beautiful items for easy hospitality - because theology and evangelism begin at home.
  • I showed off this book stand on Instagram last week - it's currently holding our Kingdom of God Bible on the dining room table so we are reminded to do our daily reading! Sturdy and adjustable for book size.
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At Home with Phylicia

A little glimpse of what's bringing us joy at home: routines, books, kitchen and home life.
  • End of year celebration: I haven't been great about doing an end of school year celebration because our school year technically never “ends”… I school through the summer so we have more freedom year round. But this year I wanted to mark the transition from “formal school” to “summer school” so we're going to display the girls' work and art for my parents, get some cake and ice cream and celebrate concluding pre-K/K and 2nd grade (even though they're continuing some work through summer).
  • I'm putting together my summer reading! I've been so focused on only Leviticus + War and Peace for the last four months I've nothing else - besides read-alouds for the kids. My method is to pick books from several different genres off my own shelves - I can pick whatever I want. Then I put them all in a basket and read whatever lights my fancy. I try to read for 15 minutes or finish one chapter each time I read:
    • Holy Hygge: Started and didn't get to finish this but I love everything by Jamie! This is a great read on the importance of creating a home culture that is hospitable and furthers the gospel.
    • Chofetz Chaim: This is a Jewish book that I've read before but I'm picking it back  up to revisit some of its truths on the power of words and when it is appropriate to speak up or speak into someone's situation and when to remain silent.
    • Grace Based Parenting: This book by Tim Kimmel is ideal for someone coming from a legalistic of fear-based parenting background. I don't resonate with some of it but other parts are really helpful.
    • Better Than Before: Another re-read, this is one of my FAVORITE books on habit formation. It gives so many practical ideas. I own every book Gretchen Rubin has ever written.
for the awakening,