Thursday, October 28, 2010

Biblical Feminity and the Way We Dress....

From Michele:
Well, Chad has allowed me one more post since I went off on a soapbox during the last blog! Let's see if I can stay on topic today: given our topic...some of you may be wishing I wouldn't! But really ladies, let's give some serious thought to why we wear what we do. Wow...I can see it now - some of you already have your finger hovering over the "x" ready to close down this page if I do what you think I'm about to do - meddle in your fashion sense! Yes...I have heard it all before - "it's hard to find skirts that are not too short" or, "I don't want to look completely old fashioned."...There are all kinds of lines we use. The bottom line is, we like getting noticed. At all ages - young or not so young.

Tons of ways to justify what we want, whether it be what we do or what we wear - we can always find a way to rationalize it in our minds! But, I wonder if we have really thought about the choices we make when it comes to our dress. We will SAY that we are just being fashionable - but are we? We are not really so ignorant as to NOT realize what we are doing to our male friends out there when we wear that low-cut blouse or skin tight skirts, are we? We say we want to be attractive - what we mean is we want to attract (attention). We don't really care if we are pushing the men around us to look where they shouldn't, or causing thoughts that they will have to struggle with overcoming. We just like the attention, right? Now, I'm not saying that everyone has to dress without waistlines or that bare arms are of the enemy - but I'm calling us to some common sense! My hubby found the post below and I think it makes a very IMPORTANT and SIGNIFICANT argument for consideration by every Christian lady out there: Am I dressing consistently with the calling on my life to glorify God in all that I do? Am I edifying those around me or tearing them down with the way I dress and conduct myself? This is the reason I asked him if I could post it - it was a great wake up call to me, and I hope to you. So, read along and evaluate. I know I sure have - and it means shopping with a new set of priorities!

From: Dan Phillips at:

Preface: "What are you? Nuts?!" Just thought I'd lead with the question you'll be wondering in a few minutes. I am about to stick my finger in the fan, about up to my elbow, and I know it. But I really think someone needs to say this — and why not me? I have less to lose than many who've thought the same thing, but daren't say it.

So here we go.
What will change, and what won't. Spring's sprung, and summer looms. Mercury rises, fashions change. But one thing that won't change, unless I'm happily mistaken: some good Christian sisters will not dress as helpfully as they could.

I chose that word with care: "helpfully." I am not talking about sin, shame, indecency, wantonness, or the like. Perhaps I could, with some justification. But that's for another time — and probably another writer. At this point, I just want to talk about being helpful.

Sister, if there's one thing you and I can certainly agree on, it's this: I don't know what it's like to be a woman, and you don't know what it's like to be a man. We're both probably wrong where we're sure we're right, try as we might. So let me try to dart a telegram from my camp over to the distaff side.

"Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man" (Proverbs 27:20). Solomon doesn't use the Hebrew words that would indicate males exclusively, so this and Ecclesiastes 1:8 may apply across the gender-board. Libbie pointed out very ably that we men wrongly assume that we alone battle with temptations entering through the eye-gate.

But. But if men aren't alone in the battle, they may have a particular weakness for this aspect of it. Consider passionately-godly King David, whose psalms express aspirations after God beside which our own are pale, bloodless things. One day King David is in the wrong place, at the wrong time; sees a naked woman bathing next door, and boom! — he's gone (2 Samuel 11). Family, kingdom, God — all forgotten, consumed in the flash-flame of a lust that was only visual in its inception.

And what of that Israelite Philistine Samson and his own "eye trouble?" He sees a fetching young pagan, and bellows at his dad, "Get her for me, for she looks good to me" (Judges 14:3 NAS). Where did Samson's passions take him? How did his course end?

Unless all the men I've known personally or at a distance are completely unrepresentative, it's a lifelong struggle, a lifelong weakness. As I recall from a Proverbs lecture on mp3, Bruce Waltke says that his dad, at around age 100, told him, "Bruce, I still have the same struggles I did when I was 50." It was sobering for Dr. Waltke to hear; sobering for any man! (In fact, put me down for "disheartening.")

Where am I going with this? Oh, don't try to look so innocent. You know exactly where I'm going.

This is... church? So here comes this brother into the assembly of the saints, hoping for a rest from the battles of the week, a moment to regroup, sing, pray, get the Word, fellowship. He looks up to the choir, or to his left or his right — and in a tick of the clock, he's facing the same struggle he faced every time he turned on his TV, opened a magazine, or went down a city street. He's seeing things that make it far too easy for him not to keep his mind focused where it needs to be focused.

And he's not in a nightclub, he's not at a singles' bar, he's not at the beach. He's in church.

Now, some very direct disclaimers:
Every man's sin is his own, and every man's struggle is his own (Proverbs 14:10)
No one makes a man think or feel anything (Proverbs 4:23)
It is each individual's responsibility to guard his own heart (Proverbs 4:23)
Beauty is a wonderful gift of God (cf. Exodus 28:2; Song of Solomon 1:8, 15, etc.)

Having said all that: while it may be true that I'm the one holding the matches, you won't help me if you pile twigs all around my feet and douse them with lighter fluid. To be a little more specific: if you know I've had trouble with drunkenness, you won't wave a glass of wine in front of me tauntingly. If you know I battle covetousness, you won't take me window-shopping in high-end stores I've no business frequenting.

That is, you won't do those things if you love, if you care for me at all.

So I put this question: what are some sisters thinking, in how they dress?

"Attractive"? As the ladies pick clothes, they'll consider what's pretty, what's flattering, what's attractive. Who could blame them? But, "attractive" to whom? In what way? To what end? With what focus?

I want my lure to attract trout so they will bite and get hooked, and I can kill them and eat them.

A business wants to attract buyers so they will spend money and acquire their product or service and make them rich.

By that blouse, those pants, that skirt — what are you trying to attract? Attract to what, so that they will focus on what and feel what, and want to do what?

Consider the questions again. "Is it pretty?" Fine question, no evil in it. "Is it comfortable, is it complimentary, is it fun?" No problem. I'd just suggest you add one more question: "Is it helpful, or is it hurtful, to my brothers in Christ? Will this unintentionally contribute to their having a focus that is harmful to their holy walk?"

Now, lookie here:
In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils (Isaiah 3:18-23)

...likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing-- 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4)
What it isn't. Immediately we'll swing in, as we always do, and say, "Now, the writer's not saying that women can't dress nicely, or wear jewelry, or blah blah blah." And we'll all disown our Fundie forebears who focused on nylons and lipstick, and came up with precise hemline measurements. We'll want to make sure that we're not advocating a new line of Bible Burqaware™ for evangelical women. All that will be true and valid enough.

But... what is it? But I'm concerned that, in our anxiety to be sure to prevent the wrong interpretation, we effectively cut off all interpretation. We have swung from making the passages say silly things, to not letting them say anything. These passages have to mean something! They must have some application! What is it?

Surely the passages warn against vanity, externality, sensuality; and promote a focus on a godly character as true beauty. Who you are; not just what you look like. Remember: "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion" (Proverbs 11:22 NAS).

Oh boy, I'm going to make it worse now. Deep breath....

Say what? What are your clothes saying about you, sister? What are they supposed to say to your brothers? "Hey, look at this?" Well, they actually are trying to look at the Lord; it's not good for them, not helpful for them, to be looking at that. No, it's not your fault that they have a problem. We established that. And it's really great that God has made you beautiful. May your husband (present or future) celebrate your beauty.

But, please hear me: you can help the brothers who aren't your husband, or you can not-help them. Which are you doing? If you're not married, and a man looks at you, is he thinking, "What a great character"? Or are you giving him reason to think something else about you is "great"?

I know many of the responses. I've heard them. "You don't know what it's like to buy women's clothes, you ignorant man!" Mostly true. My first just-for-fun purchase of (what I thought was) a pretty blue dress for my wife was... well, it was appalling. What a good sport my wife was. I took it back to the store immediately, and made a much better choice.

"I caaaan't." But this: "I can't find anything modest! It's all too revealing! It's impossible to get something that looks nice, yet isn't too tight, or too short, or too-something / not-something-enough!"

Sorry, but baloney.

I put modest women's clothing Christian in Google, and 63,500 pages come up. (Up from 43,200, last year.) Yes, some are funny and quaint at best. But are they all Amishwear? "Can't find?"

More fundamentally: I do not accept that anyone has to wear clothes that are too tight or too sheer or too short — unless you are the largest and tallest woman living in the hottest part of the planet. Because I see larger, taller women than you walking around in hot weather, and they're all wearing clothes, every last one of them. They got those clothes somewhere, I reason. You could too.

"But — but they won't look good on me! The shoulders will be wrong!"

Need-to-not-know. I'm not sure that's necessarily true, but let's accept it and pose a counter-question. You tell me. Which is worse: your shoulders hanging a half-inch too low? Or a blouse/skirt that simply (shifting into turbo-delicate) provides need-to-know information to those with a need-to-not-know?

I'm sure we all agree that there are clothes that show off what others have no helpful business seeing. Here's what to show, in clothes-selection: show a Godward focus, discretion, a godly character.

And show mercy.

Parting thought. Darlene pointed me to a statement by Arthur Pink, which makes everything I've just said look awfully mild. But there's no denying that Pink has a point. I'll close with it:

Again, if lustful looking be so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with desires to be looked at and lusted after-as Jezebel, who painted her face, tired her head, and looked out of the window (2 Kings 9:30)-are not less, but even more guilty. In this matter it is only too often the case that men sin, but women tempt them so to do. How great, then, must be the guilt of the great majority of the modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of our young men? And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses?
Now, note, Pink and I speak to different audiences. I speak to those whom I charitably assume are inadvertently dressing in an unhelpful manner. Pink speaks to those whose intent is to allure. Between the two of us, I can pray we've provided food for thought, prayer, reconsideration, and needed change.

One last thought: it is a mistake to think I exclusively have church-attire in mind. That is lifted as a particularly egregious example of what-are-you-thinking? In what I say, I have in mind any place where both sexes are present.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Most Beautiful Guest Blogger....

I have held the blog below for some time and recently looked at it again while preparing to teach our young men on biblical manhood and Michele is teaching our young ladies on biblical womanhood. I sent this to Michele thinking it would aid in her study, and then we began discussing her writing a blog on it. While she has never blogged for me, she is a much better writer; she is much smarter and incredibly beautiful. To me she exemplifies what biblical femininity is and I love her more than I could ever express in a blog. So I will turn this over to her:

From Michele:
I had the recent privilege of being invited to the pampered pajama party with our young ladies! We had a great time eating from a chocolate fountain and doing pedicures/makeovers...but what I was most impressed with was the urgency with which most of the ladies listened as we talked about Biblical Feminity. A topic that many ladies today shy away from, or roll their eyes at. Why? Because it hits us where we live...we have fallen into line with what the world deems as important - we have bought it - hook, line, and sinker...and just the mention of the term "Biblical Feminity" conjures up ideas of tender mothering, patience, lovingkindness - a softer side that most of us have left behind for the world of CEOs, dog eat dog politics in an office and afternoons of fighting with the daycare. We don't want to hear that there is "more out there" for us because we don't know HOW to change - we feel trapped where we are and, for the most part we don't even know how we got here. I spoke with our young ladies about Biblical Feminity, we looked at Proverbs 31 and the mother's admonition that the wife did her husband good "all the days of her life"....that means NOW!! Before you are even married! So - get to work NOW deciding what type of wife you will be! And our young ladies were very open to that...of course, we had the few who do as their mothers and our society have conditioned them to do when you speak about submission, respecting your husband, etc....they rolled their eyes and did the long sigh - but not many! Most of these ladies realized that there is more out there than just settling for a marriage of 50-50%, kids that don't get in fights at daycare and working yourselves into a mortgage you can't afford. Most of these girls wanted to know how to trust God more for guidance on finding the right mate, loving him completely once you marry him, and truly "doing him good" all the days of their lives. You could see the hurt in their eyes - they wonder if it is possible to really have a marriage that will last through the years...they wonder if you can enter a marriage without a "backup plan" to fall back on if he cheats...Oh, what have we done to the next generation coming behind us? What messages have we sent? God forgive us as mothers for not taking the time to teach our children where true priorities are and what is essential in this life! Let us strive now to lead our children to goals greater than just a "good job" and a "great salary". There is soooo much more that God has for them - but I fear too often we don't paint that picture accurately! It is up to us Moms...the Bible puts it in our hands to set the thermostat in the home - to train our children what the Christian home should be and the Biblical roles that we are called to. We often hear the dads challenged with praising Bible memory more than learning the curveball - but ladies, are we leading our children to Godly roles for Biblical Manhood and Feminity? Or just raising up the next generation for the "rat race"? Are we growing MEN who will stand on the WORD and ladies who will be the helpmate and support? Or are we more concerned with teaching them how to "get ahead" in life?

Next blog...Biblical Feminity in the way we dress....ouch. This will be the link that Chad referenced above and that he is graciously letting me blog about...that is, until he realized that I am taking TWO posts to do it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Wild Ones

A couple of weeks ago I had the joy of speaking at our “Men VS Wild” student event. Let me say how blessed we are as a body of Christ, to have someone like Bro. Brad Walker: a man who will lead a weekend that takes young men and, while having fun he uses the opportunity to teach Biblical manhood. While speaking to them that afternoon, I concluded with some insights from Ray Van Neste’s article “Pursuing Manhood.” It was so amazing to teach these young men and then listen to them, as we discussed the matter of Biblical manhood. I just want to list the final pieces to our discussion based on Mr. Van Neste’s piece.

Take responsibility and reject passivity: We live in a “blame culture” rather than a “responsibility culture”. We see people blame their present situations on their parents, and too often we see men blame their dad for their failures. We see people shift responsibility for their sin on another person, or at least try to alleviate the conviction/guilt of their sin by convincing themselves and others, that it is someone else’s fault. May God give us men who will take responsibility for their family and lead them spiritually.
Do Your Work: I explained to our students that this is for them. If their parents continually have to stay on them for not taking out trash or cleaning their room, they can hardly be called a man. However, we have males in our culture that may work well at a job, but who refuse to take the leadership role and work spiritually as God has called us to do. We have men who will not aggressively look for a job, but send their wife to work every day, or who will walk away from a job for convenience sake because they know their wife is bring in income. There are grown men who, the highlight of their day is the score they got on their X-Box for Medal of Honor.
Own Your Failures: I never recall a marriage counseling session I have had where the couple has walked in on the first meeting and the husband has said, “We are in here today because I have failed to be the man God has called me to be.” The marriage is always failing because of the mistakes of someone else. We come up with reasons why we run late - be it traffic, kids or anything else for that matter, rather than admitting our mistakes.
Reject Laziness: Does this really need to be expounded upon? We were created to work. We were created to do things for the glory of God! There are certainly times we don’t “feel” like doing something - but if all we ever do is what we “feel like,” we would get very little, if anything, accomplished. There is more to laziness than not going to your job - we can grow lazy spiritually, in our time with God, or in our leadership among our family.
Reject Whining: God has not called us to whine, he has called us to do! He has given us the unique ability to be problem solvers. When we whine at our situation we are in fact, whining at God’s providence. There are always going to be things we do not necessarily “like,” but we do not pout and whine about our circumstances – we find a way to adapt, prevail and bring God glory in them!
Embrace Commitment: In our day the thought is that we should shun commitment. We are to pass the buck, so to speak. Instead of coming up with reasons why my family is not worshipping at home, I should see it as my obligation to remedy this. I don’t have to whine, I must embrace the fact that God has given me this responsibility, and that I get to do this!
Sacrifice: In our flesh there is nothing good. We don’t want to sacrifice, we don’t want our “to do list” to be messed up. The entire Christian life is to be one of sacrifice: we have as our model, Jesus, who demonstrated this sacrifice all the way to the cross.

My prayer is that God will continue to rise up men to lead, love, and sacrifice in a way that only God can cause us to do!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Change at Trinity...

On October 8-9th, Grace Bible Church hosted a Family Driven Faith Conference here at Trinity with Voddie Baucham. I shared with someone that it was one of the most enjoyable conferences I have attended. I am very familiar with Bro. Voddie, and most of what he said I had read before or heard before... but it was such a joy to watch 600-700 people come with their families, desiring to learn how to better lead them in worship. The one statistic that he gave that really alarmed me was: 1% of Christian parents regularly teach their children about the things of God at home. Less than 5% have EVER DONE IT. About two years ago, when I asked this question of some of our leadership here, there were few if any that acknowledged they were having family worship at home on the regular basis. Today, there are few Sundays that go by that I am not discussing something about Family Worship with one of our men! As your Pastor, that is not a statistic that is turned in nor is it one that has traditionally been charted, but it is strong, biblically based families that will cause us to have a strong, biblically based church.

The same point was made at the conference as is made regularly at Trinity; the problem isn’t that we don’t know how to disciple our kids - most parents are phenomenal at it. Want proof? There are kids in our church and in our society, who are amazing instrumentalists, great athletes, and very scholarly… but the problem is that on THAT DAY - none of those things will matter. God will not hold me accountable for teaching my boys how to get in a proper 3 points stance or how to throw a curve ball. I will not be asked why I did or didn’t explain to them the intricacies of the 3-4 defense VS the 4-3 defense. God will not drill them on their multiplication facts or check to see that they knew the difference between an adjective and an adverb…I will be held accountable for what they have been taught about the Word of God. Bro. Voddie brought up the question as to why Christian parents don’t disciple their children in the things of God. Let me give you four reasons and a response to them:

1. No Training: Many parents just don’t know how to disciple their children. In our church and, in truth in our day, this excuse frankly doesn’t hold water. We have a book table with great books that can equip you in doing this. We have several catechism books and can supply great websites - we are even doing a class on things like this on Sunday evenings. I do believe this is the reason for the incredible increase in the number of parents at Trinity committing to disciple their children.
2. No Plan: Refer to the above statement. This is not rocket science - it is a very simple plan… I just have to make a decision that the one true God is going to be primary in our home.
3. No Goals: Everyone has goals for their children. Most of them consist of things like: getting married, getting a good job, graduating college and so on. Why is it that one seldom hears of spiritual goals for children? If you are a godly parent you may say “I want to see them come to Christ” but that is as far as you go. What doctrine, what truths do they need to know by the time they leave your house?
4. No Accountability: Our goal is to create an environment at Trinity where it is just an expectation of men to lead their home in worship. If the man is not a believer or is not present, then the mother makes a decision to lead their family in worship. If this is not being done - then there is some concern by our people - as if a child was sick and parent refused to get him/her medical care. There should be people trying to help, encouraging them, and equipping them to step up and take responsibility.

I am thrilled at the progress we have made as families in Trinity! We will continue to grow together, strive for unity and growth in foundational truths so that our children may be raised in a culture of accountability and an expectation of holiness! May God continue to raise up parents who take their responsibility seriously.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is a Book?

A few weeks ago I went to this blog to see a reprint from a man of this blog
So I am going to re-post it here for you... When I read this, and I see the number of churches in conflict, I was wondering if this is actually a title of some secret book that is floating around. But when I read it in light of our study about the Church and dealing with fallen people saved by the grace of God, along with our Peace Maker’s series, I thought it very fitting.

How to wreck your church in three weeks
Week One: Walk into church today and think about how long you’ve been a member, how much you’ve sacrificed, how under-appreciated you are. Take note of every way you’re dissatisfied with your church now. Take note of every person who displeases you.
Meet for coffee this week with another member and “share your heart.” Discuss how your church is changing, how you are being left out. Ask your friend who else in the church has “concerns.” Agree together that you must “pray about it.”
Week Two: Send an email to a few other “concerned” members. Inform them that a groundswell of grievance is surfacing in your church. Problems have gone unaddressed for too long. Ask them to keep the matter to themselves “for the sake of the body.”
As complaints come in, form them into a petition to demand an accounting from the leaders of the church. Circulate the petition quietly. Gathering support will be easy. Even happy members can be used if you appeal to their sense of fairness – that your side deserves a hearing. Be sure to proceed in a way that conforms to your church constitution, so that your petition is procedurally correct.
Week Three: When the growing moral fervor, ill-defined but powerful, reaches critical mass, confront the elders with your demands. Inform them of all the woundedness in the church, which leaves you with no choice but to put your petition forward. Inform them that, for the sake of reconciliation, the concerns of the body must be satisfied.
Whatever happens from this point on, you have won. You have changed the subject in your church from gospel advance to your own grievances. To some degree, you will get your way. Your church will need three or four years for recovery. But at any future time, you can do it all again. It only takes three weeks.
Just one question. Even if you are being wronged, “Why not rather suffer wrong?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Great Blog...

There are some incredible men out there who do a great job blogging. As in any case there are also kooks! A friend on facebook posted this blog to his page and I thought it very fitting. At Trinity, we have people that are “abounding” and “abasing” - some are looking for jobs, some have businesses that, by their words are doing as well as they have ever done. Regardless this blog should speak to all of us as stewards. Hope it blesses you as it did me.

The Grace of Cheerful Giving
by Frank Cavalli

In the last few years, the U.S. economy has faced its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and Americans are not out of the woods yet. This financial debacle, fueled by failed mortgages, has rippled through every sector of the economy. The values of homes and investments have plummeted. Consumer confidence has fallen to an all-time low. Millions are out of work, wondering how they will make ends meet. Since charitable giving is one of the first areas to suffer in an economic downturn, churches have felt the pinch and many have been forced to slash budgets and lay off staff. There’s no question we live in challenging times, but with each new challenge comes opportunity.
Through this crisis, when the idols of our materialistic culture lie shattered on the floor, like Dagon before the ark of the Lord, and the nation’s sense of security is in jeopardy, God has given the church an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that allegiance to Christ results in a distinct set of values and priorities. As we find our joy and treasure in Christ we are set free from debilitating worries about money and an insidious slavery to things. In Adam we worship and serve “the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25). In Christ our hearts are set aright. Our perception and response to this global economic meltdown ought to be different because we are a peculiar people, a people who no longer belong to this world but to God. Jesus taught that if we love only those who love us and fail to love our enemies, we are no better than the pagans. Likewise, if we are generous and cheerful in our giving only when times are good and our bank accounts are robust, how are we different from the world? Christians in the West have enjoyed an extended season of plenty. In this season of want, perhaps God intends to teach His people some fresh lessons about the grace of giving.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul exhorts the church to give selflessly and cheerfully, inspired by the magnanimity of the Macedonians and Christ Himself. In chapter 9 he offers this summary statement: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (vv. 6–8). It is unbelief and fear of loss that constrain our liberality, but here Paul compares giving to sowing. Seed sown in the soil seems lost, but the farmer knows a season of harvest will follow. As we sow bountifully with faith in the benevolence of God, not only can we expect to reap a harvest of earthly blessings, but we store up for ourselves a good foundation for our eternal future (1 Tim. 6:19).
In one sense, how we give can be more important than what we give. We must be cognizant of how our giving appears in the sight of God, for He loves a cheerful giver. To give cheerfully is to give without grieving — to give with ease, spontaneity, and pleasure. It is necessary to honor God with our tithes and offerings, yet no sacrifice is pleasing to Him unless it is voluntary. Our Father desires the cheerful obedience of His children.
Paul cited the Macedonian Christians as exemplars of this spirit. In spite of their poverty and affliction, their joy in Christ resulted in abounding liberality. “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor. 8:2). Severe affliction and extreme poverty do not usually add up to a wealth of generosity. Such circumstances would seem to provide justification for withholding whatever resources one has left in the interest of self-preservation. But their joy in Christ was so abundant that it could not be contained. Joy, like gratitude, seeks expression. The question for the Macedonians was not “How little?” but “How much?” If God’s grace has truly gripped our hearts, we will not be calculating the minimum we can offer, but the maximum we can give to Christ and His church. Cheerful givers always wish they could give more. Our tendency today is to spend beyond our means, but the Macedonians gave beyond their means: “for they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (vv. 3–4). Pleas from the pulpit and desperate appeals from the deacons were unnecessary. God’s people begged to help their brethren in Jerusalem. That’s not something you hear very often.
How do we account for their extraordinary munificence? Paul attributed it to the grace of God (v. 1). To give sacrificially with joy is not natural; it is supernatural and requires the presence and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Giving is an act of worship and a work of grace.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Let's Be Ready for Sunday!

I want to encourage you to please be in prayer regarding this Sunday October 10th. Bro. David Miller will be with us for our Sunday morning and evening service at Trinity. Bro. David has preached many Founders’ Days at Mid-America and many members of Trinity have probably heard Bro. David there. I heard Bro. David Miller as a young boy and was enchanted at this man whose body was in a wheel chair, but whose mind and ability to communicate the Word of God was extraordinary. If I had only one Preacher that I had to listen to the rest of my life, I believe Bro. David Miller would be that Preacher! He has served as a counselor, an encourager and at times a living commentary that I have called to get his thoughts on a particular passage. He has been used in the conservative resurgence in our Southern Baptist Convention, and specifically in the role of being a Trustee at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He deals with the Word of God honestly and holds nothing back in dealing with the text. In a day when so many men will stand before a church but become weak when having to preach the Word, Bro. David sits in a wheel chair before the church and stands as strong on the Word of God as any preacher I know of. Please be in prayer for this meeting, and ask God to prepare your heart to receive the Word of God. Looking forward to Sunday!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Continual Repentance

My favorite day of the week is Sunday, when I have the joy of worshipping with the saints of God. But my favorite day of the work week would have to be Monday. I get the joy of spending a great deal of time with the staff of Trinity. The things we talk about, pray through, confront one another on - always flows with incredible grace. I have shared with our Trinity family that one of the first things we do in our staff meeting is read one of the Puritan Prayers from the wonderful book “The Valley Of Vision”… when I came across this one, it struck a cord in me and I hope in every believer that reads it.

O God of Grace,
You have imputed my sin to my substitute, and have imputed his righteousness to my soul, clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe, decking me with jewels of holiness. But in my Christian walk I am still in rags; my best prayers are stained with sin; my penitential tears are so much impurity; my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin; my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of raiment, for you always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, “Father, forgive me,” and you are always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wound in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, the exceeding wonder of grace.