Sunday, August 29, 2010
In college, I had the joy and opportunity to be discipled by a wise God-fearing woman who taught me so much about the Word, demonstrated how to live a holy life before me, and showed me how a godly woman should live in our culture. In looking back, the single most important thing she taught me was the absolute necessity of Jesus and the Gospel. Prior to that, the role of Christ in faith seemed more of a good story to me and not the key to my justification, redemption and hope.
Her friendship and counsel over the course of my college years was invaluable to me; her prayers and wisdom helped me through struggles in relationships, theological issues, challenges as a varsity athlete, career decisions and most significantly, my relationship with Christ. Sometimes it was merely the simple act of getting off the college campus for a hot meal and some good conversation that made an incredible difference in my week. Being able to vulnerably share the concerns and struggles in my life and to be pointed to Christ and holiness in a loving way was an immense blessing. Post-college, my mentor is still one of my closest friends and I know the Lord used her in a mighty way to call me to Him at a time of great turmoil and confusion in my life. Praise be to God!
She also demonstrated the Titus 2 mandate given to us women to care for the women who are younger than us. After experiencing this, I am all the more encouraged to share my life with younger women so that they may learn how to live for the Lord where they are in life. Here's a great article describing this challenge written by Susan Hunt:
I had spoken on the topic of biblical womanhood and a college-age woman asked me a thoughtful question: How can I think biblically about my womanhood when I am constantly told that independence is power and that I should seek my own fulfillment and determine my own destiny?
My answer: “Go to godly women in your church and ask them to speak the truth of biblical womanhood into your life. Ask them to show you how to live for God’s glory as a woman.” But then I wondered, “Is this young woman’s church preparing its women to answer her question?” Someone is teaching women and girls what it means to be a woman. Is it the church or the world?
Older women discipling younger women is not just a nifty idea someone concocted, and it is not optional. It’s a gospel imperative. The apostle Paul writes,
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)
In light of this passage, let’s consider some questions that will help the church sound the call for women to invest themselves in younger women. I pray that this brief article would challenge women to respond to this high and holy calling.
THE TITUS 2 MANDATE
The mandate of Titus 2:3-5 is that older women are to disciple younger women, teaching them how to grow in godliness in their distinct relationships and calling.
Some of the principles of discipleship embedded in this amazing chapter will help us to understand the specific directive to women in verses 3 to 5.
Principle #1: The church is responsible to encourage and equip women to disciple each other
In verse 1 Paul addresses his instructions on discipleship to Titus, the pastor. Since women training women is an integral part of the church’s ministry, Titus must equip the women in his church to do so. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every church leader to see that women are equipped for this calling.
Principle #2: The church should teach sound doctrine
In verse 1 Paul tells Titus to teach sound doctrine, doctrine that is healthy or whole. This shows us that women discipling women should flow out of and be consistent with the regular preaching ministry of the church. This discipleship should help women apply sound doctrine to daily life and relationships.
Principle #3: The communion of the saints
Yet verses 3 through 5 also tell us that discipleship is not just the responsibility of church leaders (see also Ephesians 4:11-16). As the Westminster Confession of Faith states: “All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head… and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.”
Biblical discipleship is relational. The content of the gospel should be taught in the context of relationships that validate the gospel. Our relationship with God is personal, but that relationship also brings us into community with his other adopted children.
Older men and women have the generational responsibility to share their gifts and graces with younger men and women. They are to tell the stories of their victories as well as their failures and show how their stories are part of God’s grand story of redemption.
The Titus 2 mandate is life-on-life discipleship that guides and nurtures to mature Christian womanhood. It is a mothering ministry. This mothering spirit is evident in Paul’s description of his own ministry to the Thessalonians:
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thess. 2:7-8)
Principle #4: The gospel is our motivation
There are costly challenges in this chapter. Investing in the lives of others costs energy and time. It means taking relational risks. Why should we live so sacrificially?
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (vv. 11-13).
Christ came and he is coming back. He appeared in grace as a babe and he will come in glory as the King. While we wait for that glorious appearing we are to make disciples. Unless we are motivated by the gospel we will become discouraged and weary.
Principle #5: The gospel is powerful
Paul concludes with an electrifying reminder of the power of the gospel.
[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himselfa peoplethat are his very own, eager to do what is good (v. 14).
Some discipleship is age and gender specific but all discipleship is to be gospel-focused. It is Jesus who redeems and purifies us. For a fallen sinner to become eager to do what is good is the radical work of the gospel. The result of our investment in the lives of others is not dependent upon our own power or experience. It is only the power of the gospel that can transform self-centered sinners into Christ-centered disciples. And one of the wonders of gospel-driven discipleship is that even if we do not see this transformation take place in the disciple, it will take place in us as we disciple others.
See more of the article here.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I've almost chewed my way through Collin Hansen's Young, Restless, Reformed. The book is a journalists attempt to uncover the progress of the Reformed Christian movement by traveling across America and interviewing some of the key leaders who have influenced and shaped Reformed Christianity today. John Piper, C.J. Mahaney and Mark Driscoll are some of the big names the author gets to pick the brain of, but he also stops in at university campuses, theological seminaries and conferences to engage some of the twenty-somethings about why Calvinism has changed their hearts toward the Lord and thus, changed the way they live their lives evangelically and morally. I loved the way that, although there are differing perspectives held by a lot of these leaders on secondary theological issues such as the charismatic gifts, covenant theology versus dispensationalism, baptism, eschatology and the degree of cultural engagement a church should take, many of the leader's humility and love for the gospel creates a point of convergence that trumps all these disagreements. A love for the sovereignty of God, a knowledge of the fallen sinfulness of man and the enormous grace given through Christ's life and death and resurrection, a commitment to display and share His glory, an urgent call to evangelize to a fallen world...these leaders are like-minded about what matters most.
Charles Spurgeon sums this up well, as he often (always?) does:
The doctrine of election, like the great act of election itself, is intended to divide, not between Israel and Israel, but between Israel and the Egyptians- not between saint and saint, but between saints and the children of the world. A man may be evidently of God's chosen family, and yet though elected, may not believe in the doctrine of election. I hold there are many savingly called, who do not believe in effectual calling, and that there are a great many who persevere to the end, who do not believe the doctrine of final perseverance. We do hope that the hearts of many are a great deal better than their heads. We do not set their fallacies down to any willful opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus, but simply to an error in their judgments, which we pray God to correct. We hope that if they think us mistaken too, they will reciprocate the same Christian courtesy; and when we meet around the cross, we hope that we shall ever feel that we are one in Christ Jesus.
Amen, Spurg, amen.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
This morning I am reminded of words of assurance that point us to Jesus and eternity, offering a hope in Christ and God's promises that is a firm foundation for every struggle in life. These truths fix my eyes on a coming Savior and an eternal inheritance that does not spoil, rust or fade. Is there any struggle or frustration or hardship or evil in life that cannot be combatted with the Word of God? I am convinced that there is nothing.
No, not the ups and downs of relationships and the pain of being distanced from those we love. Nor the pain of disappointment or failure in the plans we set for ourselves. Not even the turmoil of emotion or the lethargy that life's routine can bring. There is hope for all these things in Christ and truth to fight is given us in God's Word.
What encouragement we can find in the lives of those who have struggled and hoped in Truth before us.
Henry Martyn was a young missionary to India and Arabia and Persia in the early 1800's. He had left his fiancé Lydia Grenfell behind in England in 1806 and would never see her again—he died at 31.
On the boat he fought back self-pity and discouragement with the promises of God's Word. He arrived in Calcutta in May and two months later had a devastating experience. One of the veteran missionaries preached a sermon directed against Henry Martyn and his doctrines. He called his teaching inconsistent, extravagant, and absurd. He accused him of seeking only to "gratify self-sufficiency, pride and uncharitableness."
How could this lonely young man endure such a crushing experience, and not only endure but during the next six years have the perseverance to translate the New Testament into Hindustani, Persian, and Arabic?
We can hear the answer in his own journal:
In the multitude of my troubled thoughts I still saw that there is a strong consolation in the hope set before us. Let men do their worst, let me be torn to pieces, and my dear Lydia torn from me; or let me labour for fifty years amidst scorn, and never seeing one soul converted; still it shall not be worse for my soul in eternity, nor worse for it in time. Though the heathen rage and the English people imagine a vain thing, the Lord Jesus, who controls all events, is my friend, my master, my God, my all.
Henry Martyn fought the battle against discouragement and hopelessness with the truths of God's Word: "Jesus is my friend, my master, my God, my all!" And that is the way we must fight every day, and never stop until the war is over and the Commander puts the wreath of victory on our heads. -DesiringGod.org
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Last year I posted a few pictures from the old 70’s classic Soul Winning Made Easy by C.S. Lovett. Recently I came across another of his books, one titled Help Lord—The Devil Wants Me Fat! The book teaches how the devil is able to influence your eating, how to deal with your appetite and how to deprogram yourself from bad eating habits. It is an odd mixture of good and bad, useful information and outright legalism (not to mention poor medical advice).
I enjoy these books as a bit of a guilty pleasure, I’m sure. They’re old, they’re retro and somehow quite amusing.
Here’s how this one starts:
Lovett largely blames overeating and obesity on Satanic activity.
Here’s a great picture of a very Caucasian Adam and Eve. Adam is totally ripped.
One of the best parts of Lovett’s books is that he always has lots of photographs of himself performing the programs he’s come up with (again, see Soul Winning Made Easy). Here he is meditating upon Jesus to see if it’s God’s will for him to undertake a fast.
The heart of the book is a fast. And this isn’t a fast for wimps—it’s 10 days of nothing but water (and heespecially recommends it for pregnant women and says it will cure morning sickness). The purpose of this fast is to take complete control of the flesh. Lovett suggests that for two days you will be hungry but after that your hunger will fade and you’ll be just fine. In fact, you’ll have an increase in energy and certainly an increase in relationship with the Lord.
One strange thing about this fast is that he tells you to spend meal times away from your family. While your family is eating dinner, you are to spend time in prayer and Bible reading.
Here he is enjoying breakfast (or dinner or lunch).
And here he is demonstrating how to tell Satan to go away:
After the conclusion of the fast he introduces a whole section about New Age-style visualization. He says that in order to become thin you have to project an image of yourself at your desired weight into order to develop the faith to actually make it happen.
And then he closes out the diet portion of the book with a section about nutrition, stating that you’ll have to learn to always say “no” to fats and oils, sugars and refined carbohydrates.
The final section of the book talks about evangelism because your fabulous new body, he says, can be a fabulous provoker of conversation. As people declare how good you look, you are to take the opportunity of that conversation to share the gospel. And I guess that takes us full-circle, back to Soul Winning Made Easy.