Sunday, July 27, 2014

Beauty


We live in a culture fascinated by and obsessed with the external. Commercial after commercial, ad after ad; too many weight loss diets and work out programs to count. There are nearly 10 makeup aisles at any given department store. Gyms, salons, tanning centers, and body wrap stores are at every shopping center. This isn’t just the “world” who is sucked into this; it’s us, sons and daughters of God. We’ve bought into the lie that pursuing these things will somehow satisfy our longings or bring us gain.

Go to any big church in any big city, and you will see the issue of prolonged singleness. I believe one of the major causes of this is the unrealistic expectation and desire for a spouse who will meet every attraction factor you’ve placed in your head. Godliness, humility, friendship, integrity, gentleness, strength, courage, and leadership are no longer the primary marks that measure beauty or attraction.

It’s really fascinating studying this in Scripture. If you look at the number one passage of Biblical Femininity (Proverbs 31), you will not see one mention of her physical beauty. Instead, you will see the mother of King Lemuel describe to her son what an excellent wife looks like. She’s rare, humble, precious, trustworthy, diligent, wise, dedicated to prayer, hard-working, compassionate, kind, light-hearted, a servant, dignified, praise-worthy, excellent, and a God-fearer. She even warns him about the futility in charm and beauty, saying, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (vs. 30)

Another common passage in Scripture referring to a woman’s godliness is 1 Peter 3:2-4. Here, Peter is exhorting wives to be respectful and walk in pure conduct. He tells them to avoid adorning yourself with the external. That doesn’t mean we must avoid makeup or never dress up; but he’s saying this, “That isn’t what’s important; that isn’t true beauty. That doesn’t last.” What does last? “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.” Having a heart that loves and serves her Savior; a gentle and quiet spirit that trusts and believes in His faithfulness and care; that is what is beautiful in a woman. So beautiful that God deems it “very precious.”

I think my favorite passage referring to this found in Song of Solomon. I love that book. I love the story of friendship, courtship, marriage, passion, and love. I love how drawn to each other these two were. What’s fascinating about all this is that Solomon’s bride did not consider herself beautiful. It says in Song of Solomon 1:5 that she was “dark, but lovely.” Tanned skin was unappealing in that culture. Pale skin was beautiful and appealing. Tanned skin meant you worked outside and did not have the luxury of protecting your skin by lounging around inside as was the custom. That was feminine. Dark skin was not. Yet, it was her work ethic; it was her character; it was her friendship; it was her heart that Solomon’s soul loved. Over and over and over he told her she was beautiful. In each of her insecurities and fears, he kept reminding her of her beauty.

Psalm 34:5 says that, “Those who look on Him are radiant, and their faces will never be put to shame.” In my life there have been several men and women who have (almost quite literally) shone and radiated with the love and grace of God. And it’s beautiful. I find myself watching them, almost staring, because there is something so profound that I am drawn to them. And they are appealing and beautiful; because of Christ in them. 

Men and women, brothers and sisters: this is what we ought to aim for. We exert so much time and energy trying to impress and gain the affection and attention of our peers and significant others that we miss it. Please don’t buy into the lie that you have to look a certain way to gain affection or attention. Don’t get so ingrained in the world that you neglect a beautiful heart for a beautiful body. It’s not worth it and will only end in disappointment and pain.

By the power and grace of God, may we be a broken generation who strives for godliness and Christ-likeness before and above.

“While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eternal Perspective

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

This is hard.

As children of God, we are called to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10), to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12), to seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6), and as the above passage says, to seek the things that are above, where Christ is. As children of God, we are called to have an eternal perspective. 

And it really is just hard. It's hard because every fiber of our fleshly being fights this. We don't want to submit our thoughts to the Lord. It's easier to succumb to our temptations and give in to indwelling sin and thoughts of lust, fear, abandonment, anger, loneliness, rage, insecurity. We don't want our minds to be renewed because it hurts. It forces us to come face to face with our sin and our pride and see how desperately we need help because we can't do it alone. We don't want to seek His kingdom first, because it's really comfortable to reside in our own kingdoms. It's easy to make our own plans and pretend to have control of our own circumstances. We don't want to seek the things that are above, because that means we have to say goodbye to what's here. It means we have to loosen the tight grips of everything we believe to hold in our hands.

I'm learning this right now. This summer has been a summer of the Lord tenderly, lovingly, and patiently prying my hands loose of what I hold dear. He's bringing me into the center of deep fears and insecurities, and it's there that He's reminding me that He's good. He's allowing me to feel sadness and hurt, and it's there that He's reminding me of His kindness and love. He's bringing about so much change in my life that I want to rip my hair out, and it's there that He's reminding me that He's sufficient and unchanging and wise and peace. It's there that's He's reminding me to keep my eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12). It's there that He's teaching me how to have an eternal perspective. 

Life is so much more than my whirling mind and up and down emotions that I'm feeling at 10pm on July 23, 2014. It's so much more than any temporal pleasure I experience or long to experience. It's so much more than the dream job or loving husband or first home or paid off car or masters degree or home full of kids or well sculpted body. In and of themselves, those things aren't bad, but when they're void of an eternal perspective, all they do is end in futility. When I begin to not only realize, but believe, the purpose of my life is to bring recognition and glory to God, it changes my perspective. 


You were created to live for something vastly bigger than you and only grace can make you willing and able. You were hardwired to live for God, so even though you may not be aware of it, every good or bad thing you do today has verticality to it. Remember that every physical, situational, relational gory you'll experience today is meant to point you to the glory of God.
Paul Tripp


As Colossians 3 says, my life is hidden with Christ in God. He's called me into His grand and beautiful story of redemption. How small my wrestles and struggles are in comparison to the future glory that awaits me. How great is the need to share the gospel and the hope found in Jesus, because one day He is returning and making all things new- and in light of that, today is the day of salvation! How vital and important it is to walk in obedience with a transformed mind and an eternal perspective. Oh, to truly understand and believe what this means.


So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.... 
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised...
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 4-5

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What is the definition of a "Godly Woman"?

Years ago I taught a Biblical Womanhood class. As a part of the class, I asked many different people (of all ages and occupations, men and women) to define what they think a "godly woman" is.

I found that list today as I was packing up my room to move. It is both encouraging and challenging to read. One of my deepest desires and prayers would be that I am a woman who "bleeds the gospel."

Enjoy!

What is the definition of a "Godly Woman"?


  • "She is not afraid to call sin what it is... in her life or in others." (wife, stay at home mom)
  • "She is steadfast in the Word and constant in communication through prayer." (female, recent college graduate)
  • "She chooses her words carefully and uses them powerfully, instead of wasting time with godless chatter. She is able to see the needs of others as more important than her own needs." (male, college sophomore)
  • "Modesty is a big one. Also not worried about what everyone else is doing. She doesn't get influenced easily. She lets God guide her rather than the crowd." (female, high school sophomore)
  • "The women I trust and admire the most (among my peers and older women) are those who "bleed Gospel." Even in casual conversation these ladies openly, easily, speak of their Savior. He colors every part of their lives." (single adult female, IMB missionary)
  • "What makes me think of a godly woman is someone who keeps me accountable. Someone who isn' afraid to confront me when I'm in sin. Also, a woman who doesn't gossip and loves everyone for who they are." (female, high school junior)
  • "Gentle, non-judgemental confrontation, speaks wisdom and Scripture drips from her lips. Hospitable." (female, new wife, secretary)
  • "What embodies a godly woman is one who clings to Christ and leads others to the cross in the face of affliction and sorrow; one who is not afraid to seek and speak truth, lovingly rebuke, and accept that grace that covers their own imperfections." (male, college senior)
  • "A godly woman knows the Lord and fears Him well. Her first thought in the morning is her desperate need for the cross. Her every step screams her love for Jesus. She serves and lets the body serve her. Her smile reflect God's grace. She doesn't want me to be perfect, just vulnerable, because she knows that He is made perfect in our weakness. Her reckless abandonment for Christ is unshakable. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't steal her affections from Jesus. She longs for God with her whole heart and prays that He would come quickly." (single adult male, student minister)
  • "My mentor is a godly woman who is always there and keeps me accountable with things that are going on in my life. She will tell me things to help me and encourages me, but also isn't afraid to tell me things that I don't necessarily want to hear, but I know will help me in the long run. It's also nice to hear how she is doing in her walk and have her open up to me." (female, college junior)
  • "I would have to say the gospel saturates a godly woman's life, in such a way that I know I can go to them with anything, no matter what it may be, and always come back with a solid biblical answer. And knowing that they know that it's nothing of themselves, just Jesus. I would definitely say a characteristic of prayer would be very important. A wife who takes care of her home, like raising kids with a firm but humble spirit. Biblically submissive in the home, but not afraid to bring her husband back to reality when he needs it. Openly and unashamedly talks about the gospel to those in her workplace. Whenever she's asked a question, she relates the answer to Scripture." (male, husband and dad, firefighter)
  • "My mom. Unconditional love, trust, humility, exhortation, non-judgmental, gift of listening, wisdom." (single adult male, photographer)
  • "My mom was the most godly woman I had ever known. Never heard her talk bad or negatively about anyone. She loved her family and reached out to share the gospel with many of them with unbelievable patience, and she was very forgiving. If she forgave you for something, you would never hear about it again. My wife is the other godliest woman I know. Patient with me, convicted by the gospel, compassionate towards others who are hurting, and let's me lead in our relationship. She submits to my leadership in a way that wants me to lead better. Praise God for godly women!"(male, husband and dad, pastor)
  • "Modesty! A woman willing to dress down her beauty rather than dress up her beauty... beautiful!" (single adult male, firefighter)
  • "Someone who knows who she is, not just her likes and dislikes, but who God says she is, and is confident in that. Someone who pursues God and it overflows into her words and actions. She is an encouragement with Biblical wisdom to everyone she meets. Loves and serves selflessly." (single adult female, student minister)
  • "She has a personal relationship with her Lord and Savior. Puts the Lord first, her family second, others third. Ministers to others. Strives to do what's right, even though it's sometimes very difficult. Puts the needs of others before herself; is not self-focused but others focused. Looks to the needs of her household. A Proverbs 31 woman. Desires to be close to Him. Has a prayer continually on her lips. Desires to read and study the Word of God." (female, wife, mom, and grandmother)
  • "Her security and identity is in the Lord only. She dresses modestly. She demands to be pursued. She does not chase. She encourages her brothers to be men." (single adult male, engineer)
  • "A godly woman is recklessly abandoned to Christ. She trusts in the Lord in times of pain and loss. She finds her identity completely in Christ, which leaves her satisfied in who she is, and she does not find herself needing to flaunt her body to draw men to herself. Rather, she is attractive because of her quiet submission to the Lord and dependency on Him daily. She is an encourager and supporter. The word is her bread and she prays without ceasing." (male, husband, student minister)
  • "She loves the Lord. Loves herself. Beautiful. Respects herself. Does her best to live for the Lord. Will tell me if I'm doing something ungodly. A role model for other woman. Can take care of herself. Has a loving heart for others, willing to serve. Tackles anything thrown at her, including persecution. Wears clothing that won't make a man lust. Takes care of her family. Trustworthy." (male, high school senior)
  • "A godly woman is submissive, yet able to hold her ground with life's demands. Understands how to share Christ's love, even in the toughest situations. Leads by example, not just in her words. She has a desire to change for the Lord and is able to discern which guys are right for her. Very gentle." (male, college freshman)
  • "A godly woman seeks first God's will. She is slow to anger and patient in all her dealings. She openly shares Christ's love with others. She cares more about the basic needs of others than her own. She is not lazy but works as though working for the Lord, whether that be in her home or in the workplace. She respects those in authority and honors her husband. She watches her tongue and does not partake in the slashing or gossiping of others. She does not judge others and views those around her with the love of Christ. Wise with her money and all the things God has entrusted her with." (wife, stay at home mom)
  • "A godly woman lives for the Lord in all that she does. You can truly tell in how she is living her life. She is always there pouring Scripture into everyone." (female, high school junior)
  • "First, I would say modest with her clothing choice. That's a big one. A man should notice the beauty of her spirit. She should not always try to be center of the universe. She should realize it's not about her, it's about Jesus. She should constantly be in the Scriptures." (male, high school sophomore)
  • "A godly woman lives for the Lord and no one else. She does not get caught up in worldly anxieties and foolishness. A godly woman resists temptation with all that she has and lays everything at the Lord's feet, even when it's difficult to let go." (female, high school junior)
  • "A godly woman is confidant in modesty because she is reverent to her God." (male, husband, teacher)
  • "Gentleness, servant-hearted...but with let others serve her too. Humility, meekness, modesty, fear of the Lord, patience, kindness (this can be done without flirting)- mainly and most importantly, love for Jesus like crazy." (single adult male, student minister)