This past weekend, my wife and I spent the weekend at the Mountain Springs Inn in McKee, KY. We stayed there because we won a contest that WJMM-FM put on. We truly enjoyed it. Here are some pictures we took on the back part of the property by the pond.
We had no cell phone signal, so it kept us from receiving calls—and removed the temptation for us to be on the phone for personal or ministry reasons.
Cindy and I have been through a good deal in our twelve years of marriage. Married in Kentucky, we moved to Florida right after our honeymoon—the first time she had lived in any other state. We lived in Florida for three years where I served as Minister of Music and Youth and First Baptist Church of Clewiston. God called me back to Kentucky to finish my MDiv work at Southern Seminary. A few months at a church in Nelson County, playing piano for five months at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, pastoring a small church in Breckinridge County (English Baptist Church) before coming to Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in 2003—we have had many, many experiences in ministry that have been painful but always profitable.
And through it all, she’s stayed by my side.
Back in May 2009, she was diagnosed with lupus. She has had to make some significant adjustments, seeing as how lupus saps energy quickly and effectively! But it has helped us in so many ways. So many distractions have been cut through, and we have grown closer to one another and to the Lord in ways I never imagined otherwise.
I’m with C.J. Mahaney, who told his wife Carolyn, “You are color, and the rest of the world is black and white.” Unlike others I know, there is no one I’d rather spend time with than my wife. I get more pumped about date nights and times away because I know that I do not have to say goodnight and wait for the next date.
And she has brought four children into the world that light everything up! Seeing their personalities crystallize makes me recognize how thankful I am that God put me in a position to be their father, and to lead this family as God commanded me. I’m seeing more and more how important Dads are—and I vow to be that Dad for them.
A bad day with my wife is better than the best day with anyone else! I’m grateful to God for Cindy. Every day is a gift and a treasure!
Paul Strahan is the chairman of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Committee on Public Affairs. Here is a copy of the letter he sent to the General Assembly. Well stated, indeed!
There’s a disjoint between teaching and knowing. And what I mean by that is you can teach all you want, but the knowing is not under your control and that can be frustrating. Because listen, what I’m after is not regurgitation. If my daughter and son can systematically lay out a belief system in God but they don’t have hearts that worship Him, I don’t think we’ve won. But here’s the thing. I can’t make my son or daughter fall in love with Jesus like their mom and I have. I can’t do that for them. I can teach them about Him, I can let the joy of Christ flood my home, I can romance and love my wife on good days and bad days, I can walk in the door every night and long kiss their and make them go, "Oh my gosh. Get a room," I can do all that over and over and over again, teach them love, teach them some security, teach them the goodness and grandeur of a creator God and the glory of the gospels, I can teach them those things, but God has to awaken it in their hearts. I can’t do that.
So this makes me desperate. This makes me pray. This makes me plead. This makes me plead very honest prayers for them, over them. Which means I have prayed on more than one occasion, held my little daughter’s hand as we go to bed at night and prayed, "Please don’t let my sins affect my daughter, and please save her soul." To which she’s gone, "Jesus is in my heart." So I go, "I’m so glad. I’m going to keep praying though. When you’re 40, if I’m still alive, I’ll still be praying this." So I want her to hear those things. I want her to hear "I can’t make her love You, God. Help her. Stir her heart towards You. Show her that You don’t love some future version of her, but You love her right now." Because that’s a beautiful piece of the gospel, that God doesn’t love some future version of you but you right now…"
Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY directs us to an article by Rebecca Traister of Salon.com in which she writes an article on Michelle Obama doing the unthinkable:
She has chosen to devote herself to (for now) being a wife and a mom exclusively, even those she is a lawyer who possesses an Ivy League post-graduate degree. The response from those who hold to the feminist ideology is rather telling.
In Ephes. 5:31-32, the Apostle Paul
“’Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
We must realize that marriage gives us a portrait of Christ and his bride, the Church. Paul calls it a “mystery,” but not the type that you try to keep a secret for as long as you can, but one that you reveal at just the right time.
Again, you see why God takes this seriously. So what do we see as far as this portrait that a marriage should look like? Well, as we go through these, I pray you will not only reflect on your own personal marriage, but also look to Christ who is the perfect Husband to his bride and rejoice and praise Him for who He is and all He has accomplished.
Going back to Ephesians 5:23, we see that Christ is the head of the church. He is the spiritual authority of his people and we as his bride submit to him. He is perfectly capable of leading his church. As Christ is the head of his house, so Christ must be the head of our house — with each member submitting to him in all things.
Next, Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). This really caught me. Sometimes, the church does not seem all that lovable. All too often, we find ourselves very sporadic in our devotion to God, in our attendance, in actively engaging in our times of worship, or rarely spending time with him. But for whatever reason that I will never fully understand, he loves us. Not only does he love us but He gave himself for us. This was not just a feeling of love, but a sacrificial love that put self aside for his beloved. This is a connection we see all through Scripture: Christ loves, Christ gives (see John 3:16 among others).
Christ also nurtures the church. Verse 26 says that he wishes to sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor without sport or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Christ takes it upon himself to love his bride whom he purchased with his own blood. Verse 29 talks of how he “nourishes and cherishes” the church.
Christ leads, loves, sacrifices, and nurtures his church. In return, the church submits to this— willingly! Dear Christian, does this describe your marriage? Does it describe mine? Do we realize that our marriages, good or bad, are a portrait of Christ and his church? May God continue to open this truth up in our hearts so that our marriages would line up with His will, not with the shifting sands of the culture.
This morning, we find ourselves dealing with a very difficult topic. Right up front, I want to tell you this: I have committed to what’s called expository preaching. What that means is, a commitment to preaching through particular books or portions of the Bible as they are arranged by the Holy Spirit. Why do I do this? For one, I want to follow Paul’s dual commands to “preach the Word” and to preach the whole counsel of God. As a result of this, I will guard against the tendency of my own flesh to skip over passages that may been seen as overly controversial. This has happened a number of times, and God has always blessed and honored our times together because we have preached and received his Word, no matter how difficult.
This morning, as God’s providence would demand, we will be talking about “Why Does God Care About Marriage?” So if you would, turn with me to Matthew 5:31-32:
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32, ESV).
Jesus here deals with this area with a great deal of seriousness. And by and large, the church of Jesus Christ has dealt with this seriously as well. But there are ways to deal with something seriously. How so?
In this area, our breed of churches tends to deal with the doctrine of marriage and divorce seriously. We hold the authority of God’s Word seriously and with great gravity. But for all too many, they would say they love God but the love of neighbor is decidedly missing. As a result, someone who holds to God’s commands seriously metes out judgment on those who do not. There is a risk of coming at this with such moral superiority in this area that no one looks deeper.
There’s another way to look at it seriously. You can look at this in a way that balances the clear commands of Christ with loving and showing compassion on those who are victims of divorce. We must not only take God’s Word with determined seriousness, but also take those whom he created seriously. Paul’s exhortation to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) cannot be ignored or dismissed.
Some of you sitting in this place have gone through the horrors and the pain of divorce. On the pain scale, divorce actually is more painful than any other event or experience — even more so that the death of a loved one. Some of you may have initiated the divorce because of marital unfaithfulness or even abuse on the part of your spouse. Our hearts break for you, for there is nothing worse than losing the trust of one you love. Some of you may have initiated this because you felt you didn’t love your spouse anymore. My prayer is that you will see that love is not relegated to a feeling but to a commitment, a steadfast love in much the same way that Christ steadfastly loves his church. Some of you here may be the victim of a divorce — you tried and tried and did everything you could, but they refused to. Our hearts go out to you and we pray you will come to Christ for healing and cling to him as your all in all, as one who will never leave you nor forsake you.
The point of this sermon is not, “Four Ways to Have a Happy Marriage,” but is this: how can Christ be Lord of my life even when all around me may try to take control of my heart and mind? And given this, why does God care about our marriages? What are they about? Are they just civil contracts dictated by the state, or is there a connection with the soul as well?
(Tomorrow: God Gave Marriage From the Beginning)
(This sermon was preached on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to the entire sermon, click here. To listen to other sermons, click on http://www.matt-perry.net/sermons. You can also read the Introduction and Part I.)
In Titus 2:4-5a, Paul advices Titus to challenge the older women to “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.” So Paul here gives not only a challenge to the older women but also to the young women as well. Another word for ‘train’ is the word ‘disciple.’ A Titus 2 Woman has a decidedly crucial role in discipleship in the local church. This is not a program, per se. This is a lifestyle use of time to help the next generation of women be, well, women. Why is this important? Because there is a confusion of roles in our day — some understandable, some not.
For instance, over half the homes in the United States with children have single parents, usually single mothers. In that case, moms not only have to be moms but dads as well. But even if both are present, when one person in the home abdicates their God-ordained role and function in the home, others have to compensate and disharmony ensues.
Older women are to come along and train the younger women, first, on how to have a godly marriage. Paul addresses two areas dealing with the husband-wife relationship. They are to “love their husbands … and be submissive to their own husbands.” First, let’s look at the love. He is not talking about what Gary Chapman of the Five Love Languages calls the tingles. You remember: you meet your potential spouse, feel the warm fuzzies and the tingles, and have those overwhelming feelings of where you can’t be without them. You get married. Then after two years or so, the tingles go away. Sadly, many believe that they do not love the other person because the tingles are gone. They miss an important aspect.
The word love here comes from the word philandros with the root word philo that is a friendship type of love, as opposed to the emotional sexual type of love depicted by the word eros which is where we get the word ‘erotic.’ See, some believe the marriage is over when that’s all there is. But in many ways this is when it’s just beginning. This type of love is a love of the will — a conscious decision and commitment not only to your husband but also to God who brought you both together. In this way, they are to stay “pure,” morally, biblically, and sexually.
What about the submissive part? Again, don’t let the culture tell you that this means that men are to walk all over you. For one, this is not saying women should submit to all men, just their own husbands. Secondly, while this may seem as if it gives men a blank check to treat their wives however, remember men that God called you to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:24). Women will not mind submitting to a husband that sees himself as a fellow servant fulfilling his role. This is what Paul means in that the young women are to be kind — why? — because they are driven by the Gospel. Ephes. 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
How to be a godly mother. One of the saddest articles I read was one by Linda Hirschman of Chicago. She had written a book urging mothers to go full-bore into the work force, especially those who had college education. Why? Because staying at home with the children deprives our society of their skill sets. While situations and circumstances may take women into the workplace, may it not be because of that. May it not be because you feel as if you are less of a woman and less of a contribution to society if you stay home. If that’s the case, someone forgot to send God a memo.
Paul tells the older women to train the younger women to “love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, and kind.” As un-P.C. as this sounds, God has wired the women to be the nurturers. And children see this, gravitating to their moms in a special way. What is Paul saying: he is saying to give children a sacrificial love that cannot be denied. Some couples want to keep their lives just the same even when they have children. But it just doesn’t work that way. Children bring about sacrifice. The husband and wife come together as mom and dad. What’s the goal?
How to be a godly model of the faith. The goal is to model, to live, and to train the upcoming generation (as the older women should be training you) in the very same things — especially in how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and how to live out the Gospel in every aspect of your life.
(This sermon was preached on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to the entire sermon, click here. To listen to other sermons, click on http://www.matt-perry.net/sermons. To read the Introduction, click here.)
Look at Titus 2:3. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.” Titus was a young pastor who followed Paul as a disciple for a good while before ministering on the island of Crete. Titus oversaw a number of churches and sought to model the Lord’s teaching through Paul. Titus worked on two fronts: staving off the false teachers on one front, and stabilizing the immaturity of the faithful on another front.
But also the fact that Paul is even addressing women was quite contrary to that culture. Women were not highly esteemed. Older women and widows were virtually ignored and neglected. Yet here, Paul addresses them. That in itself was significant to many, but not to Paul. In Galatians 3:28, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul understood from Christ that there was an equality of souls that could go before the Lord. There was an understanding even from Genesis 1:26-27 and God made both “male and female” in his image.
So Paul comes along and encourages the older women in the assembly to be “reverent.” The word used here in the Greek only occurs here out of the entire New Testament and deals with a notion of being priestlike and being a person of holiness. This ties in with 1 Peter 3:4 which says, “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 3:4).
Paul brings this up because older women, especially widows, who for the most part have more time on their hands due to retirement, children being away from home, etc., have certain temptation that may come along to fill the time. He notes that women should not be “slanderers.” This word in the English comes from the Greek diabolous which is where we get the word ‘diablo’ or Devil. The Devil is a slanderer and an accuser, specifically to the saints of God (Revelation 12). The temptation is to look at the world or even the church and spend time lamenting how different it is, how bad it is, how awful so-and-so is. When driving by Lexington Baptist Temple the other day, I saw a sign on their marquee saying, “Beware: if someone is gossiping to you about someone else, then they are also gossiping to someone else about you.”
Paul also warns for older women not to be “slaves to much wine.” Why would this be a temptation? Simply put, to dull and take the edge off the pain. Most of the older women were widows, and even with the best of memories from the past, loneliness can be the most painful thing a person can endure. Also, many older women (and men) struggle with physical issues that cause great physical pain and the temptation is to drink “much wine” for medicinal purposes. The Apostle Paul advised young Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach issues (likely due to the pressure of pastoring a church).
What is the point here? Paul is lovingly admonishing the seasoned saints who have more time on their hands due to retirement, maybe loss of spouse and the empty nest syndrome to use that constructively building up rather than being destructive in tearing down. So how should the women use their time?
(Tomorrow: A Titus 2 Woman: A Discipler of Younger Women)
(This sermon was preached on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to the entire sermon, click here. To listen to other sermons, click on http://www.matt-perry.net/sermons.)
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).
Those of you who are around me anytime at all realize my love for the country of Trinidad & Tobago. My heart aches especially for the pastors down there who have very little training on how to minister to their people and what training they do have comes from some very problematic sources.
What I noticed at the church at Mt. Beulah where we ministered previously was a row of elderly women who sat in very special seats up front. At first, I just thought it was how they were arranged, but then I noticed that for each of those women, Roddie Taylor addressed them as “Mother.” “Mother Jones, Mother Taylor, etc.” At the church in Siparia, these women sat in more prominent seats: right up next to the stairs. These women were the seasoned saints of the church who had poured their lives into that church for decades. They held a place of honor and influence for the things of God.
Although it’s been 18 months since I’ve been there, this fact ran across my mind given that Mother’s Day was approaching. I confess that I really debated on what to preach. While many may look on this day with much affection, for some this day is more difficult that one could realize for many different reasons.
I would like to use this day as an opportunity to address another difficulty that many churches deal with: what role do women play in the church? In a country where women have only been able to vote only since 1920, in a country where many TV shows from the 1950s and 1960s portrayed women as bubbleheaded ditzes, in a culture where the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s moved the long-established cultural lines of role of men and women— the churches came along and reacted one of two ways. One way was to go along with the culture and move the lines of the role of genders where the culture did. Another way was to overreact and move the lines even further than what was before. As a result, whether the churches were liberal or fundamentalist, the lines were ones that suited them but weren’t necessarily what the Bible spoke on.
My desire is that every single woman in this church would be a Titus 2 Woman. A Titus 2 Woman embraces the role God has established that complements other areas of life and ministry in the church. Also, a Titus 2 Woman takes time to invest not just in its own generation but in the generations that have gone before as well as the ones coming up. A Titus 2 Woman is not ashamed of God nor His Word. So let’s see what God has in store for us this morning.