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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Us From All These!

During my devotions after my Bible reading some mornings I do some reading in a book called, The Saint's Rest. It was written by Richard Baxter in 1758. I am slowly working my way through the book a little bit at a time. It is basically a book that Baxter wrote during a time of intense physical suffering. It is a book that is devoted to pondering the glories of our future rest.

This morning I came across a couple of places that were extremely thought-provoking and challenging. I though I would share one of them with you. This is from the chapter dealing with the excellencies of the saint's rest.

"All of our temptations from the world and the flesh shall also cease. Oh the hourly dangers that we here walk in! Every sense and member is a snare; every creature, every mercy, and every duty is a snare to us. We can scarce open our eyes but we are in danger of envying those above us, or despising those below us; of coveting the honors and riches of some, or beholding the rags and beggary of others with pride and unmercifulness. If we see beauty, it is a bait to lust; if deformity, to loathing and disdain. How soon do slanderous reports, vain jests, wanton speeches, creep into the heart! How constant and strong a watch does our appetite require! Have we comeliness and beauty? What fuel for pride! Are we deformed? What an occasion of repining! Have we strength of reason and gifts of learning? O how prone to be puffed up, hunt after applause, and despise our brethren! Are we unlearned? How apt then to despise what we have not! Are we in places of authority? How strong is the temptation to abuse our trust, make our will our law, and to mould all the enjoyments of others by the rules and model of our own interest and policy! Are we inferiors? How prone to envy others' pre-eminence, and bring their actions to the bar of our judgment! Are we rich, and not too much exalted? Are we poor, and not discontented? Are we not lazy in our duties or make a Christ of them? Not that God hath made these things our snares; but through our own corruptions they become so to us. Ourselves are the greatest snares to ourselves. This is our comfort; our rest will free us from all these. As Satan hath no entrance there, so he has nothing to serve his malice; but all things there shall join with us in the high praises of our great Deliverer."

"Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Flight!!

An Osprey in flight!

A Great Egret in flight!

Great Egret in flight!

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Brown Pelican in flight!
You have to admit they all look more graceful in flight than anything Boeing or any of the other aircraft builders have made. Could it have anything to do with the difference in designers??

Assorted Pictures

Lydia and I spent about three hours this morning at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge, the road alongside the refuge, and Bryan Beach looking for birds. We found some!

Great Egret

The waves were not very big today as is usually the case, but they were beautiful as they were breaking; perfectly formed as you can see!

This American Coot is making it's own waves!


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I believe this is an Osprey! He also sat there forever.

Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

Bad hair day!
The next three pictures are of a Turkey Vulture that let us get amazingly close! We just kept inching closer and closer in the van until we got to his side of the road. I got about thirty-six pictures of this beauty as I got progressively closer and closer!




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Friday, January 25, 2008

Identity Politics

Identity politics is a term with which I have only recently become acquainted. The concept I have been familiar with I simply was not aware there was a term identifying the concept. Identity politics is voting for someone because you have an identity with them. Examples:

Black people voting for someone because they are black.
Women voting for someone because they are a woman.
White males voting for someone because they are a white male.

Most of us are probably appalled at people who cast their vote for such shallow reasons. If you are like me you believe a vote should be issue driven. It really should not even be party driven. Voting for a Republican candidate just because they are Republican. While each voter has and should have the liberty to vote based upon what ever criteria they decide upon I am afraid that some people do not stop to listen to their candidate. In fact I know some people don't. They just assume that because they are black then they will naturally embrace their views. If they are a woman then they will naturally embrace the feminine view.

I raise the issue for two reasons. Mike Huckabee's support among evangelicals and a poll referenced last night in the debate indicating that 40 something percent of Americans did not think a Mormon would be a good President.

In both cases I think identity politics are at work, in one case in a positive direction in the other a negative direction. I am going to vote for Hucakabee because he is a Christian, an evangelical, this is identity politics exercised in a positive direction. I am not going to vote for Romney because he is a Mormon, this is identity politics in a negative direction. I think both of these men should be examined based on the issues. Where do they stand. If Hucakabee were elected President he will not make America a Baptist nation, nor should he. If Romney were elected President he would not make America a Mormon nation, nor should he.

Listening to Hucakabee I hear a lot of the same kind of language used by Democrats. Last night for example when he engaged in class warfare pitting the wealthy against the poor. Just because he says he is a Christian does not mean he would make a good President. Just because he is a Southern Baptist does not mean he would be a good President. Just because he was a Pastor in his past life does not mean he would be a good President. We have elected two other Southern Baptists in the last 30 years and neither of them were very good Presidents. Carter came on the scene claiming to be a born again Christian. People went out in droves and voted for him in 1976 and four years later voted against him. He made a very bad President. I am afraid people did not take the time to listen to what he was saying, examining his record, paying attention to the issues. All they heard was, "I am a born again Christian" and they said so am I and they went out and voted for him. Of course it probably had something to do with the fact that he was running against Gerald Ford who had pardoned Richard Nixon. Nevertheless, as I think back on that election I think it was largely driven by identity politics.

What about Mitt Romney? I do not agree with the Mormon faith, in fact I stand opposed to it. I do not consider the Mormon faith to be a Christian religion. I know a little bit about the Mormon faith. I have done some reading and had a few opportunities to interact with them concerning spiritual issues. They have got it wrong. But, I am not voting for a religion but for a set of issues. Consequently I want to vote for the person who embraces and has the right stand on the issues that are important to me.

Someone who is for:

Protection of human life
Opposed to gay marriage
Strong military
Securing the borders
Smaller government
Reduced spending
Lower taxes
Appoint strict constitutionalists judges
Committed to defeating terrorism
Defending second amendment liberties
and, Reducing regulation among other things.

The person who comes closest to espousing these views will probably get my vote. This typically rules out Democrats. So I find myself looking on the Republican side for someone who embraces these things in a conservative fashion.

If there is a Baptist running who I do not think believes like I do on these things compared to a Catholic, Protestant, or Mormon who does believe like me on these things I think I would have to vote for the Catholic/Protestant/Mormon before the Baptist. I am scrutinizing the principles they hold to more than the path they took to get there.

Herein lies one of the reasons I could probably never be more involved in politics than supporting candidates and casting votes. It seems to demand compromise. In casting my vote I suppose I have determined to let issues be the guide and to whatever candidate they lead me it is there I will cast my vote.

It is beginning to look as though when Texas votes in March that it will be a two man race, Romney vs. McCain. McCain says he supports my positions but he has spent the last 10 years working against them. Romney says he support my positions although he is a recent convert to some of them. I am not completely thrilled with either choice but I believe Romney more than I do McCain so at this point he will likely get my support. My vote (in the primary and the general election) will be cast without the same level of enthusiasm as in some past elections. It will probably be like voting for Bob Dole in 1996.

Maybe I am all "washed up" here but it seems like the practicing of identity politics is troublesome no matter how it is applied, whether in race, gender, or religion, whether positively or negatively.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Training Men!

Yesterday I received a little paper called, Independent Baptist College Alumni Announcer. I am familiar with the Independent Baptist College. I attended there one year (1981-1982). I did not graduate but opted rather to be trained by the pastor where I was attending church.

There was a short article in the paper entitled Called To Preach by Dixon Myers, Vice President of Independent Baptist College. I do not know Bro. Dixon that well. I did visit with him over lunch a few years back at a Bible conference we attended together. I enjoyed our visit and his passion. I also heard him preach at the conference and was challenged by the message, I thought him to be a good preacher with some good convictions. I have no reason not to respect Bro. Dixon and what little I know about him I appreciate.

Nevertheless, I do want to take exception to some of the things he wrote in this short article. The article was mostly about preparing for ministry, more than the call to ministry. This is of course not surprising seeing he is the Vice President of a Bible School.

In order for people to see for themselves the context of the points to which I take exception I include the entire section dealing with preparing men for the ministry.

"Our first inclination is to want to keep them right there in our church and watch them grow and serve the Lord with this new zeal that comes with a genuine call to preach. They are like a dry sponge and quickly soak up everything we teach and peach and are constantly hungry and thirsty for more spiritual food. That inflates our ego. Yes! We all have that ego problem to some degree or other. It is true that he can be trained by the pastor alone or even accept a pastorate right away and learn by the hard bumps that are always a part of learning by experience and self training. We should ask ourselves if that is what is best for the newly called preacher in need of some high quality training for that serious work of the ministry.

The matter of the amount of time spent for training is also of vital importance. Some will drop out of Bible College saying; 'Jesus is coming soon and I must get into the harvest field now.' It is true, there is always urgency about winning the lost, but it is also true that a thoroughly sharpened ax will save both time and energy in chopping down a tree. Proper training costs a little time but saves a lot of time over the long run of a man's ministry. The most talented and experienced pastor still has all his pastoral responsibilities and can give only a very limited amount of time to training the young preacher. When Jesus himself trained the twelve for the ministry he had them with him in training 24-7 for 3 or more years. What pastor today thinks he can train them in less time than Jesus did? A good scripturally sound Bible college is the most time efficient way to get the needed training.

One of the books we use in our missions courses is entitled: Getting Ready to Go. Lynn Raburn the author gave this personal illustration in the introduction: 'When I entered basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the United States was still embroiled in the conflict in Viet Nam. It was presumed that most of those who passed through the training at that military post would fight in the jungles of Southeast Asia. With that in mind, the drill instructors hardened our muscles and sharpened our fighting skill to prepare us for the warfare in which we would engage. They were getting us ready to go. It would have been disaster if they had shipped us into the battle zone without proper training. We would have endangered ourselves, and our comrades and the military venture as a whole. Regardless of whether it was enjoyable or not, the preparation we endured was essential.'

Brethren, God is still calling men into the ministry and they still need to be trained. Someone will have a great influence on the training they get or fail to get. You may have a lot more influence than you think you have. Don't be hesitant to try to direct them to IBC. You received good training here and so can they. Thanks for your help.

Dixon Myers, Vice President"


First of all I don't think there is any disagreement about the need for training. I think most preachers realize the essential nature of training for ministry. Most would see the obvious problems associated with newly called men assuming major ministry responsibilities. The Scripture even relates that for a person to be qualified for the ministry he cannot be a novice. Here we agree.

There is an underlying assumption here that the only effective way to be trained is by going to Bible college. What is the basis for this assumption? Whatever it is I believe it can be easily undermined by a couple of pertinent points. One, there are many men who have been trained in their local churches under the watchful eye of their pastors who have proven themselves quite capable. The evidence shows that it can be an effective method of preacher training. Two, there are many men who have been trained in Bible college who have proven they are not capable and able ministers of the New Testament. The evidence shows that Bible college training is not necessarily an effective method of preacher training.

Bible college is often, possibly unintentionally, billed as a panacea in the area of preacher training. The effectiveness of the training is largely going to depend on the character and commitment of the one being trained. Do they have a humble, teachable spirit? Do they have good study habits? Do they have a genuine call?

As for an ego problem, it is admitted that "We all have that ego problem to some degree or another." Well if this is true, then it can be applied just as easily to the administrators of a Bible college as it can to Pastors of local churches who are committed to training their own men. Are we to believe that egos are not fed by increasing enrollment, expanding budgets, sprawling complexes, and the fact that churches everywhere are sending their young men to us for training. Quite honestly, this seems to be a more fertile environment for pride and the stroking of one's ego than the context of the local church. But really when we begin to speak of egos and pride we are striking at the heart of motives and why people do what they do. To imply that pastors who train their own men are doing so for ego sake borders on being uncharitable. Is it true that some pastors train men for the sake of ego? No doubt it is! But that does not suggest a problem with the method but with the man.

It is offensive that a pastor training his own men is equated with encouraging a man to accept a pastorate right away upon being called to the ministry. The implication is that a pastor "alone" training his own men is the same as no training at all. This is guilt by association and a forced association at that. Simply because rhetoric is employed to make the two equivalent does not make it a reality.

Men that are church trained are not trained by the pastor "alone". There seems to be a complete dismissal of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not teaching and shaping the man it matters little where he gets his training. I don't think anyone would argue for training from a Bible college alone. The active agent of change is the Holy Spirit! The ultimate teacher is the Holy Spirit! The source of passion is the Holy Spirit! Ultimately we run great risk by looking to either Bible college or pastors as the great agent of change, the ultimate teacher, or the initiator or passion. If the Spirit of God is in it and the trainee is committed and living a Spirit filled life we would expect great success in the context of the local church with the pastor guiding in the training. If the Spirit of God is not in it and the trainee is not committed and living a Spirit filled life then no Bible college in the world will suffice.

Every one is for sharpening the ax to use Bro. Dixon's analogy. The Bible even addresses that at least in concept. Pr 27:17 - Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. It is personal relationships that sharpen the iron. Yet, it is implied that the pastor "alone" is the same as no training at all. A man's countenance is sharpened by a friend. Who is in a greater position to be a friend to the newly called preacher than his own pastor? Who is in a greater position to sharpen the countenance of the newly called preacher? Who will have more concern for the newly called preacher than his own pastor? Instead we are encouraged to send him to a place where he likely knows few if any of the men who will be his instructors. Can he get to know this new group of people, of course he can. But tell me again why this is necessary?? Why this is better??

"The most talented and experienced pastor still has all his pastoral responsibilities and can give only a very limited amount of time to training the young preacher."

My perspective causes me to immediately perceive the contradiction in this statement. Training is about including the young preacher in the pastor responsibilities. Where in the New Testament is there this dichotomy of pastoral responsibilities and training the young preacher. I think this reveals a serious misunderstanding about ministry. It is, I might add, an understandable misunderstanding. The concept of sending off young men to some centralized location for Bible training has become entrenched in people's thinking. In the process, training men has been divorced from pastoral ministry. It is an area where reconciliation needs to take place.

What Bible college today thinks it can train men in less time than Jesus did. I do not know of a Bible college anywhere that the students stay with instructors or administrators 24-7. If it was 24-7 for three years that is not the same as a few hours in class every day. If that is the standard then Bible colleges too are failing. Yet most Bible colleges leave the impression that after three or four years of schooling the young men are now prepared to enter the ministry. Maybe they are maybe they are not?? What makes a Bible college think it can do in four years, a few hours a day what Jesus did in three years? It seems to me that the training process, in most cases, should naturally take a bit longer than 3 or 4 years.

I think Bible colleges like IBC serve a useful purpose. Many pastors today have lost the vision for training men and have been made to feel incapable of doing so. Consequently the need for someone to do it. Unfortunately most Bible colleges perpetuate the problem instead of seeking to work themselves out of a job in a generation or two by training men to train men, yes preachers. They send the graduates away saying send us your young preachers. I would hate to think this had anything to do with ego.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our Speech: Communicating In Holiness

PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1

OUR SPEECH – COMMUNICATING IN HOLINESS
TITUS 2:8


There use to be a commercial on the radio that stated “People judge you by the words you speak.” If I remember correctly is was a commercial advancing the importance of expanding one's vocabulary.
Titus 2:7,8 - In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

The word "sound" is translated from a Greek word meaning healthy, well, true. In fact I think in the context of the verse itself Paul explains what he means by using "sound speech". In the very next phrase he says, "that cannot be condemned". That is sound speech is speech that is unblameable, not susceptible to censure.

Here is an area where we are very apt to be influenced by the culture around us. Words, sayings, clich├ęs, and terms become entrenched in the culture and mainstream and the tendency is to pick up these things without much thought as to where they came from or with what or whom we are aligning ourselves by the use of certain expressions.

Every time we open our mouths we are broadcasting the content of our hearts.

Matthew 12:34 - O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Our speech is an area where there should be a marked difference between the world and us. We should seek to establish clearly defined boundaries of separation. We should separate our communication from that of the world. Our speech should identify us as different, as Christian.

Phrases that were given birth in Hollywood and worldly music find their way into the sanctuary of God’s house. We choose words that are just a half step away from cursing. Slang becomes accepted. Fudging the truth is seen as a necessary evil and a convenient escape from consequences. Bitter words are spoken under the guise of spiritual maturity and concern.

All of these issues that can characterize our speech reveal a lack of perfecting holiness in the fear of God as it relates to our speech.

Our commitment must be to communicating in holiness. If we cannot say it and be holy we ought not to say it!

I want us to consider three primary areas where we need to be judging our speech and bringing it into conformity to the Word of God and the standards of holiness and separation from the world.
PURE SPEECH
Cursing

Cursing is the language of the world. Using expletives worldlings express grief, happiness, sadness, and anger. A cursing believer reveals the limited nature of sanctification in their lives and it cannot be characterized as sound speech that cannot be condemned.

Psalms 59:12 – For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.
Cursing is identified as a sin of the mouth! Cursing is attributed to pride!

Rom. 3:14 – Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: . . . .
This is characteristic of the unbeliever but should not be characteristic of those who have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof.
Jam. 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Clearly there are some forms of communication that are inconsistent with holiness and righteousness.

Taking God’s name in vain.

There is more involved here that just using God’s name in connection with an expletive. It is also important to keep in mind that God has many names.

Exodus 20:7 -Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
God’s name is not to be used in an empty fashion. His name is to always be spoken in an attitude of reverence and godly fear. The Scripture is clear that the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. It is amazing that behaviour that is accompanied with such a sober warning is so readily and without out conscience engaged in by so many.

Leviticus 19:12 - And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
When one swears by God’s name and then proceeds to tell a falsehood they have taken God’s name in vain. Swearing should be unnecessary for the Christian. Let your nay be nay and your yea be yea. In the rare instance when we may be called upon to help establish true testimony in a court of law and possibly a few other isolated occasions to swear by his name and then lie is to take his name in vain. His name is to not be attached to falsehood. In fact in a legal proceeding if one lies under oath they have committed perjury, which is a crime liable to prosecution.

Proverbs 30:7-9 – Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Profane people who lay claim to the name of God take it in vain. Our behaviour can cause us to be guilty of taking God’s name in vain. To claim to know God and then to engage in behaviour that is contrary to the nature of God is to take his name in vain.

Psalms 29:2 - Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Psalms 34:3 - O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Psalms 111:9 -He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name.
God’s name should always be used with the utmost attention to His glory and majesty. His name is due glory, it is to be exalted, it is holy and reverend. To use any of his names in a way that is inconsistent with its nature is to take his name in vain.
Again remember that God has many names: God, Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, Lord, and there are others. Extreme caution is needed here. It is easy in an unguarded moment to say something that is taking God's name in vain. It is inconceivable that one could tell a joke that involved God and not violate this command. Jokes by their very nature make light of things. While there may be numerous objects and topics that are a fit subject for such light-hearted play it is doubtful whether the name of God should be subject to such jesting.

We must be careful about making light-hearted conversation using God’s name. God's name should always be used in a context of sobriety and reverence.

Euphemisms
A figure in which a harsh and indelicate word or expression is softened. Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Double Talk, “Euphemisms are known as linguistic fig leaves and double talk.” The idea of euphemism being linguistic fig leaves should strike a chord with everyone familiar with their Bibles. Adam and Even used fig leaves to make aprons to cover up their nakedness. Even so it was inadequate. We have to ask ourselves what are we seeking to cover up with the use of euphemisms and is it providing adequate cover? Adam and Eve thought so till God came. We may think so until we go to God. It is an area we should probably consider.

Euphemisms are words that are not curse words but sound very close to curse words and in fact are cleaned up curse words. Often times it is just a syllable that is changed up.

Some examples are necessary in order to be aware of what is before us. I looked up each of these words in my dictionary of euphemisms:

Golly – A euphemistic deformation of “God”.
Good grief – Good God, (good gosh, good gracious, good gracious to Betsy, good gravy, goodness sakes alive).
Gosh – Along with golly, probably the most common of the many euphemisms still used for God.
Dang – Damn
Darn – Damn
Heck – Hell
Shoot – A euphemism for the crude term for excrement. (shucks)
There are others but we will let this suffice. Euphemisms give one the opportunity to engage the spirit of cursing without the use of the actual words.

Ephesians 5:3,4 - But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Foolish talking and jesting is to not once named among you as becometh saints. It is important to understand what is involved here:

Foolish talking – Silly talk, buffoonery
Jesting – Well turned, witticism, indecency, obscenity
I do not believe that this is a prohibition on all humor. I do believe it is a warning that if we are not careful humour can easily slip into foolish talking and jesting. We must be careful about moving closer and closer to the edge of indecency and complete silliness.

Paul write that neither of these things that can characterize our speech is convenient which means proper, or fit. Pure speech is characterized by a sense of propriety. It is to not once be names among saints.

Colossians 3:8 - But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Filthy communication is to be put out of our mouth. Communication that more closely identifies us with this world than the eternal world.
TRUE SPEECH

Holy speech is true speech. Deceit and hypocrisy is unbecoming of a believer. There are many temptations to lie, fudge a bit with the truth, engage in double talk, leave out information that will result in a false impression, and twist thing just a bit for some perceived profit. People are tempted to be deceitful to get out of a bind, escape consequences, make them selves look good, make others look bad, and a host of other reasons. Yet, the Bible is explicitly plain when it comes to telling the truth and being truthful.
Ephesians 4:25 – Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
How do we put away lying? By speaking truth with our neighbor. We cannot lie if we are committed to truth telling. This is a concrete example of what he was speaking of earlier in this passage when he wrote about putting of the old man and putting on the new. Putting off the old man is putting away lying. Putting on the new man is speaking truth with our neighbors. May be we be committed to truth telling even at great personal costs and even if it requires us to suffer some undesirable consequences.

Ephesians 4:15 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: . . . .
The truth must always be spoken. Sometimes the truth is painful. When we suspect this is the case we are to not be calloused concerning the reality but to be charitable in the expression of the truth. I will write more about this in a bit.

Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
It could not be plainer! Lips that lie are an abomination to the Lord. That places lying in some fairly unsavoury company. On the other hand, those that deal truly are his delight. Do we want to please the Lord? Then we must be people of truth.

Proverbs 12:17 – He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.
If we want to show forth righteousness then we must speak the truth. If we are ever caught lying and being decietful then the cause of righteousness suffers. Liars end up suffering major credibility problems.

Romans 3:13 – Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: . . . .
People use deceit to accomplish all kinds of things. We live in a culture of lying. When I speak of lying I am not speaking of saying you are going to do something and then circumstances develop that render it difficult or impossible for you to fulfill the commitment. I am talking about saying you are going to do something when you have not intentions of doing it. I am talking about purposefully telling an untruth.
I never cease to be amazed how people hate for others to lie to them. Yet, those same people have no qualms about lying to others. I have come to realize that when people say they hate lying what they are really saying is that don't want to be lied to but that they don't mind lying to others. For most people to say they hate liars would mean they hate themselves.
When I worked at Dominos if an inspector was coming I usually got sent home. Why? Because inspectors asked questions about procedure and how things were done. The purpose was to ensure that things were being done according to procedure. They knew if I was asked I would tell the truth. I would not seek out and inspector but if they sought me out and asked I would not lie for them. So it was best just to send me home, and they often did. Not every time but on several occasions. The computer statistics would be manipulated to improve the store numbers which is lying. Bus drivers check off their pre-trip form without doing the complete pre-trip, this is lying, that could have serious consequences.

Proverbs 20:17 – Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
Such is the case. Liars are never delivered from their dilemmas they simply make them more complicated. If you doubt it just ask former Presidents Nixon and Clinton. Ask the upper management of former Enron. Ask the baseball players who used steroids and lied about it. It would do us well to remember that gravel is awful hard on the teeth.
Liars have to have good memories. Liars have to remember what story they told to who.
Isaiah 53:9 – And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
When we tell the truth we reflect the image of Jesus rather than the spirit of this world. The Bible says, "neither was any deceit found in his mouth". May this be said of us as his followers.
CHARITABLE SPEECH

Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Speech is to be always with grace. That little word "alway" certainly leaves little wiggle room. The point that is at issue in this verse is how we are to answer every man. Part of the answer is with grace. We do not answer men the way they deserve. They may deserve rancour and malice but if we are charitable in our speech we will answer with grace.
Our speech will be seasoned with salt. There are no doubt several very good applications to this imagery employed by Paul. I think the one most in keeping with the context is that of salt serving as a preservative. Our speech should be of such a nature that we preserve the relationship. The scripture does say as much as lieth within you live peaceably with all men. Some men desire no peace. Even so let us not be accused of employing language that is destructive of the relationship. We are instructed to have our speech seasoned with salt. This will be best effected by have our speech characterized by grace.

Ephesians 4:29-32 – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Corrupt communication is communication that does not edify. It is communication that does not minster grace to the hearers. In the previous passage we were told to let our speech be always with grace now we are instructed to let our speech minister grace to the hearers. Our speech should be charitable. Even when we have to say hard things about or to people, and sometimes we do, it can still be said with a charitable spirit. The point is that truth is being sought and not personal agendas. We are not attempting to tear down people but build up the truth. There are times when casualties result from battling for truth. While this is at time necessary it should never be something that we enjoy and relish. I am reminded of the words of Robert E. Lee who said something to the effect of, It is good that war is so terrible lest we grow fond of it. We may have to go to war at times for truth but we should never grow fond of it. And no matter what, we should keep in mind our responsibility to speak that which is good to the use of edifying and those things that minster grace to the hearer.
When we fail to do so we grieve the Spirit of God.

1 Peter 2:1-3 – Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Look at the things we are to lay aside. And notice that little word "all"! Again we are left with little room for negotiating. All means all! All what? Malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speakings. Instead of embracing these attitudes that detract from our ability to engage in charitable speech let us desire the sincere milk of the word. Desire it like a newborn babe. The attitudes and behaviour mentioned in verse one is detrimental to achieving the desirablity expressed in verse two. These two verse are set against each other as polar opposites. The attitudes of verse one stunt our growth and hinder our ability to speak charitably. The practicing of verse two encourages our growth and increases our ability to speak charitably.

Ephesians 4:15 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: . . . .
I return to this verse. I do so because I want to make the point that when we are told to speak the truth in love we are not being given some idealistic concept that is hard to define and quantify. If we want to know what speaking the truth in love looks like, if we want to know what charitable speech looks like we only need to go to 1 Corinthians 13. 1 Corinthians 13 identifies the nature of charity. Consequently we find in this passage the attributes of charitable speech.
Without spending a lot of time in the passage at this point I leave you with the following to consider:
Speech that is characterized by longsuffering.
Speech that is kind.
Speech that is without envy.
Speech that is characterized by humility.
Speech that is not unseemly.
Speech that is not seeking its own.
Speech that is not the result of being easily provoked.
Speech that is refrained from thinking evil.
Speech that does not rejoice in iniquity.
Speech that seeks the advancement of truth.
Speech that reveals a willingness to bear all things.
Speech that reveals a willingness to believe all things.
Speech that reveals a willingness to hope all things
Speech that reveals a willingness to endure all things.
Speech that reveals a commitment to never failing in its personal responsibilities.
Matthew 12:37 - For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Titus 2:8 - Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Texas My Texas!

The following was sent to me by a friend and fellow Texan from Texas City, Texas. Read it and weep!

T E X A S is the only state!

Need to be cheered up?
Happy, Texas 79042
Pep, Texas 79353
Smiley, Texas 78159
Paradise, Texas 76073
Rainbow, Texas 76077
Sweet Home, Texas 77987
Comfort, Texas 78013
Friendship, Texas 76530

Love the Sun?
Sun City, Texas 78628
Sunrise, Texas 76661
Sunset, Texas 76270
Sundown, Texas 79372
Sunray, Texas 79086
Sunny Side, Texas 77423

Want something to eat?
Bacon, Texas 76301
Noodle, Texas 79536
Oatmeal, Texas 78605
Turkey, Texas 79261
Trout, Texas 75789
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
Salty, Texas 76567
Rice, Texas 75155

And top it off with: Sweetwater, Texas 79556

Why travel to other cities? Texas has them all!
Detroit, Texas 75436
Colorado City, Texas 79512
Denver City, Texas 79323
Klondike, Texas 75448
Nevada, Texas 75173
Memphis, Texas 79245
Miami, Texas 79059
Boston, Texas 75570
Santa Fe, Texas 77517
Tennessee Colony, Texas 75861
Reno, Texas 75462

Feel like traveling outside the country? Don't bother buying a plane ticket!
Athens, Texas 75751
Canadian, Texas 79014
China, Texas 77613
Egypt, Texas 77436
Florence, Texas 76527
Ireland, Texas 76538
Turkey, Texas 79261
London, Texas 76854
New London, Texas 75682
Paris, Texas 75460

No need to travel to Washington D.C.: Whitehouse, Texas 75791

We even have a city named after our planet!: Earth, Texas 79031

And a city named after our State!: Texas City, Texas 77590

Exhausted?: Energy, Texas 76452

Cold?
Blanket, Texas 76432
Winters, Texas

Like to read about History?
Santa Anna, Texas
Goliad, Texas
Alamo, Texas
Gun Barrel City, Texas
Robert lee, Texas

Need Office Supplies?
Staples, Texas 78670
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, Texas 76084

You guessed it.... it's on the state line....: Texline, Texas 79087

For the kids...
Kermit, Texas 79745
Elmo, Texas 75118
Nemo, Texas 76070
Tarzan, Texas 79783
Winnie, Texas 77665
Sylvester, Texas 79560

Other city names in Texas , to make you smile....
Frognot, Texas 75424
Bigfoot, Texas 78005
Hogeye, Texas 75423
Cactus, Texas 79013
Notrees, Texas 79759
Best, Texas 76932
Veribest, Texas 76886
Kickapoo, Texas 75763
Dime Box, Texas 77853
Old Dime Box, Texas 77853
Telephone, Texas 75488
Telegraph, Texas 76883
Whiteface, Texas 79379

And last but not least, the Anti-Al Gore City: Kilgore, Texas 75662

And our favorites...
Cut n Shoot, Texas
Gun Barrell City, Texas
Hoop And Holler, Texas
Ding Dong, Texas and, of course,
Muleshoe, Texas

Here are some little known, very interesting facts about Texas .
1. Beaumont to El Paso : 742 miles
2. Beaumont to Chicago : 770 miles
3. El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas
4. World's first rodeo was in Pecos, July 4, 1883
5. The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water.
6. The Heisman Trophy is named after John William Heisman who was the first full-time coach at Rice University in Houston
7. Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America
8. Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America 's only remaining flock of whooping cranes
9. Jalapeno jelly originated in Lake Jackson in 1978
10. The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900, caused by a hurricane, in which over 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island
11. The first word spoken from the moon July 20, 1969 was "Houston"
12. King Ranch in South Texas is larger than Rhode Island
13. Tropical Storm Claudette brought a U.S. rainfall record of 43" in 24 hours in and around Alvin in July of 1979
14. Texas is the only state to enter the U.S. by TREATY, (known as the Constitution of 1845 by the Republic of Texas to enter the Union) instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas Flag to fly at the same height as the U.S. Flag, and may divide into 5 states
15. A Live Oak tree near Fulton is estimated to be 1500 years old
16. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state
17. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period in Dr Pepper
18. Texas has had six capital cities: Washington-on-the Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco, West Columbia and Austin
19. The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the U.S. which is taller than the Capitol Building in Washington DC (by 7 feet).
20. The name "Texas " comes from the Hasini Indian word "tejas" meaning friends. Tejas is not Spanish for Texas
21. The State Mascot is the Armadillo (an interesting bit of trivia about the armadillo is they always have four babies. They have one egg, which splits into four, and they either have four males or four females.)
22. The first domed stadium in the U.S. was the Astrodome in Houston

Pretence???

Mark 12:38-40

38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

I have been doing some reading in the book of Mark. This morning I once again came across this familiar condemnation of the Scribes by Jesus.

Jesus had little toleration for the religious hypocrite.

The phrase "and for a pretence make long prayers" really grabbed my attention this morning.

Pretence - 1. The act of holding out or offering to others something false or feigned; presentation of what is deceptive or hypocritical; false show; simulation; 2. That which is pretended; false, deceptive, or hypocritical show; pretext. 3. The act of pretending or laying claim; claim laid; assumption. (Webster's Unabridged, 1892)

Synonyms - charade, disguise, make believe, pageant
Related words - deceit, deception, fake, fraud, humbug, imposture, sham, affectation, air, pose
Contrasted words - sincereness; reality, soundness, substantiatlity, validity, fairness, honesty
Antonym - Sincerity (Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus)

The Lord was accusing the Scribes of using long prayers to pretend they were something they were not. Their long prayers were a false show, a charade. It was for the purpose of disguising the truth about themselves. He is accusing them of being a fraud, an imposture.

We must be careful that our spiritual exercises are not simply pageantry to disguise our carnality. Maybe this is why the Lord extols the virtue of private prayer and discreet giving. Pretence is only possible in the context of public consumption.

It is not what we let people see that determines our sincerity but what people don't see.

2 Corinthians 1:12 - For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

May God help me to live a life that reflects a godly sincerity and deliver me from living a life of pretence. May we all be cautious about hiding behind long prayers, or any other spiritual activity for that matter.

Words Of Wisdom

14 ¶ Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

20 ¶ My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:14-27

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The War Against Choice????

Thirty-five years ago the Supreme Court of the United States rendered its decision in the case, Roe vs. Wade. This Supreme Court Decision made abortion equally legal in all 50 states. The decision by the Court was a supreme travesty.

From 1973 through 2002, more than 42 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. according to this website. The Supreme Court effectively legalized the murder of between 25% and 33% of an entire generation.

This morning on the way back from my bus driving responsibilities I was listening to the news station broadcasting from Houston and the morning crew had a brief interview with a woman by the name of Goria Geldt author of the book, The War On Choice.

As would be expected I was outraged by the time I arrived home. Over and over again she spoke of the necessity of maintaining liberty concerning reproductive rights. Our society is morally and intellectually bankrupt if they cannot see right through this kind of rhetoric.

Reproductive rights vs. the right to kill the fruit of exercising that right.

Gloria was not arguing for the right to reproduce or not reproduce. She was arguing for the right to engage in behaviour that is likely to cause reproduction and then kill the fruit of that behaviour. These are two totally unrelated issues and each should be argued on it own merits. By confusing the two issues the abortionist seek to gain an advantage in the debate. I, for one, refuse to let them confuse the issue.

She has the right to reproduce or not reproduce. When she chooses to lay with a man she is exercising her right to engage in behaviour that could result in a baby. She does not have to engage in that behaviour and she can take steps to prevent a pregnancy. She has all the liberty she could possible hope to have in this area.

But now she wants to move beyond reproductive rights and having engaged in behaviour that is likely to produce a baby she also wants the liberty to end the new life that has been created by the behaviour. Why should she be granted this liberty?? Because the victim has no voice of its own? Because the victim is small and defenseless? Because the victim is not wanted? Because the victim is seen as a burden? Why should anyone be granted this liberty? If this liberty is granted then none of us really have liberty given by God but only that that is given by government! Horrors of horrors. What government bestows government can take!

If any of the aforementioned reasons are adequate for extending the liberty to one person to take the life of another person then none of us are safe. Why? Because we may find ourselves without a voice. We may find ourselves small and defenseless. We may find ourselves not being wanted by those with power. We may at some time be seen as a burden. Even if all of this is true or becomes true of me no one should have the liberty of depriving me of life. This principle is not negated simply because the person is in the womb. And if it is then why not out of the womb?

People want to exercise their reproductive rights and then be irresponsible in relation to consequences. They want to engage in the cause and kill the effect.

Oh, God have mercy on us for our hands are stained with blood.
The blood of innocent victims who have been slaughtered on the altar of convenience.
We are worthy of judgment for their blood cries out from the ground.
If we will not repent as a nation help us as your people to bear patiently the rod of they wrath!

Choosing A Perceived Strength As A Weakness!

The following is from a piece by Byron York at NRO. He is quoting Obama at a recent rally in South Carolina.

"“You notice that people who’ve been in Washington too long, they don’t talk like ordinary folks,” Obama began. “We had this debate in Las Vegas, and somebody asked me, ‘What are your weaknesses?’ So I said, ‘Well, you know, I don’t keep track of paper that well, I’m always losing paper, my desk is a mess.’ And then they asked the next two candidates. And one candidate says, ‘Well, my biggest weakness is I’m just so passionate about helping poor people.’ And then the other one says, ‘I’m just so impatient to help the American people solve their problems.’ So then I realize well, I wish I’d gone last and then I would have known.”

Pausing for a moment while the crowd burst into laughter and applause, he continued: “I’m stupid that way, I thought that when they asked what your biggest weakness was, they asked what your biggest weakness was. And now I know that my biggest weakness is I like to help old ladies across the street.”"

I read about this exchange in a recent Democratic debate early last week. I read Obama's answer and thought OK that is a weakness. It is probably not his worse weakness but who really expects a candidate for the POTUS to reveal all their weaknesses. It is an irrelevant question for a candidate. It is the responsibility of the opposition to reveal what they believe to be the weakness of the other candidate.

But..........back to the point.

His was a reasonable response. I then read Hillary's response and Edward's response and thought; that is their weakness. Who were these two trying to kid. They took what they believe to be a strength and turned it into a weakness.

Hurray for Obama for pointing out the ludicrous nature of their answers. And he does so in a humorous way! His response is funny. Soooo......he puts both of them in their place in a way everyone thinks is funny and he wins votes in the process.

He has not of course won my vote and will not. Why?? Because I disagree with him on issues. I am beginning to think though that he may win a lot of votes, maybe even enough to be the next resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

Anyhow, for now, good for Obama for pulling the covers back on the insincerity of the other two Democratic candidates.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Resolved!

Many of you have probably seen the following. I always find it challenging when I run across it.

It is a partial list of 70 resolutions made by Jonathan Edwards written in 1722.

"Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake.

Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, To be endeavouring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

Resolved, Never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Resolve, To strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

Resolved, To ask myself at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.

Resolved, Never hence-forward till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's.

Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.

Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them."

The rest of his resolutions can be found here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our Appearance: The Aesthetics Of Holiness

PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1
OUR APPEARANCE: THE AESTHETICS OF HOLINESS
PSALMS 29:2
If there is an area of life that is more jealously defended than entertainment choices it is personal appearance (clothing choices, hairstyles, definitions of modesty and nakedness, body piercings, tattoos, etc . . .)

But what we must admit is that we all draw lines here. We all have things we consider to be appropriate and things we consider to be inappropriate, even lost people have their lines of demarcation in this area. Really there is no dispute about there being a wrong and right kind of appearance the dispute, to the degree that it exist, has to do with where the lines are drawn.

Again, this is an area where we hear people say well, I like this, or I like that, or I think this looks good. And, again I would contend that it is not about what we like or what we think looks good, but what God likes and what he thinks looks good. What we should desire more than anything is God’s mind on the issue. To the degree that we can discern it we should conform to it no matter how at odds with the culture it places us. Remember we have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his dear Son!

Whether you like it or not people judge us by our appearance. Our appearance says something about our values it sends a message. It is dishonesty and unfaithfulness to argue that what we wear does not matter.

One of the first things we learn in Scripture is that it matters to God what we wear. Adam and Eve sinned and they sewed them aprons of fig leaves. God came and made them coats of skin. It mattered to God!

Aesthetics – Fitted for perception, esp. by feeling. From to perceive, especially to the senses. The theory or philosophy of taste, the science of the beautiful in nature and art.
Thus when I speak of the aesthetics of holiness as it relates to appearance I am arguing for adorning our selves in such a way that we manifest the beauty of holiness.

Psalms 29:2 - Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The word beauty in this verse is translated from the Hebrew word hadarah (had-aw-raw) which means decoration, honor, adornment, glory.

The Hebrew word comes from the root hadar (haw-dawr’) which involves the idea of magnificence, i.e. ornament or splendor:— beauty, comeliness, excellency, glorious, glory, goodly, honour, majesty.

I thus conclude that holiness is beautiful. It is aesthetically pleasing. It is not sexy, it is not seductive, it is not revealing, it is not coarse, it is not confusing, it is not alluring, it is not tempting, it is not flashy, it is not indecent, it is not fashioned after the world.

Our attire identifies us. It aligns us with certain principles.

Proverbs 7:10 - And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

The clothing she was wearing identified the woman. Much of what is worn by modern day Christians would probably make the harlot of Bible days blush!

As God’s people we should want the beauty of holiness reflected in all that we do, including our appearance so that our holiness is aesthetically pleasing, primarily to God and a testimony to those still in darkness and held captive by the fashion of this world
My responsibility as a Pastor is set forth in 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
The responsibility of the congregation is set forth in at least two passages:
Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
and,
Hebrews 13:7,17 - Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
SOME GENERAL BIBLE PRINCIPLES RELATING TO APPEARANCE
1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 – If we are to prove all things I believe this would include our appearance.
Romans 12:1,2 – Our appearance is to not be conformed to this world.
1 Peter 1:14-16 – Our appearance is to not be fashioned according to our former lusts.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – Every choice we make about our appearance should be to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 – Everything we put on we should be able to do so in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:23 – We should dress unto the Lord not men.
Exodus 23:2 – We should not follow a multitude to do evil as it relates to our appearance.
1 Corinthians 8:13 – Be careful in our appearance not to give offence to the brethren.
1 Corinthians 10:32 – Be careful in our appearance not to give offence to anyone.
2 Corinthians 6:3 – Appearance should not weaken the impact of ministry.
Philippians 4:8 – Does my appearance make it difficult for others to think on right things.
Ephesians 4:17,18 – Do not dress and have the apperance of those who have the understanding darkened.
Ephesians 5:9 – Our appearance should reflect goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Ephesians 5:10 – We should be proving what is acceptable to the Lord in our appearance.
Ephesians 5:17 – We should strive to understand the will of God in the area of our appearance.
PARTICULAR BIBLE PRINCIPLES RELATING TO APPEARANCE

Biblical modesty
1 Timothy 2:9 - In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; . . . .
The word "adorn" is translated from the Greek meaning to put in order, arrange, prepare, ornament.

The word "modest" is translated from the Greek meaning; orderly, decorous, well arranged, seemly. The Greek word is Kosmios from the root word kosmos. We get our English word cosmos. We can look into the cosmos and see how well ordered it is. In fact this year we have to add a day to the calander in order to bring our time keeping back into harmony with the cosmos.
The Greek word is used in 1Timothy 3:2 - A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; . . . . Here it is translated as good behaviour. I suppose we could say that women (and men) are to be adorned in apparel that is characteristic of good behaviour.

The word "apparel" is translated from the Greek katastole (kat-as-tol-ay’). This is the only place were the Greek word is used in the New Testament and it conveys the idea of a lowering, letting down; a garment let down, dress, attire. The Greek word comes from the root katastello (kat-as-tel’-lo). This word is used twice in the New Testament and is translated once as appease and another time as quiet. It is a word that means to send or put down, to lower; to put or keep down one who is roused or incensed, to repress, restrain, appease, quiet
The instruction for us here is that we are to order and prepare ourself in a decorous, well arranged, and seemly garment designed to be let down so that it appeases those who might be otherwise aroused.

Modesty is that orderly presentation of one’s self that is designed to put or keep down one who is roused or incensed. Modest dress represses and restrains the natural, God given desire.
The word shamefacedness is translated from a Greek word that conveys the idea of downcast eyes; bashfulness, i.e. (towards men).

The word sobriety is translated from a Greek word that involves soundness of mind, self-control, soberness.

Not with broided, gold, pearls, or costly array. That is a modest look is not a flashy look, a look designed to draw attention to one’s self. What is being discouraged here is presenting one’s self that is not in keeping with shamefacedness and sobriety. It is not a complete ban on any kind of braid, or jewelry, or nice clothes. We know this from the companion passage in 1 Peter 3:1-6 - Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
What do we learn from this passage? A woman is not to be preoccupied with the putting on of apparel. It does not mean she is not to wear any clothes which would be an obvious absurdity and at variance with what the Scripture teaches elsewhere. Just as it does not mean she is not to put on clothes neither does it forbid any plaiting of the hair or wearing of jewelry. The point being argues is that it is a beautiful spirit that should be observed and not a flashy presentation. Sara was married to a wealthy man and consequently probably had some of the best clothes available and a bit of jewelry as well.

The absence of modesty.
Isaiah 3:16-24 - Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.
Before us is a passage that provides the antithesis of a woman adorned in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety. The virtues of shamefacedness and sobriety were unknown to these women. They were proud and haughty. The troubling aspect of this passage is that it can be an accurate description of women in Baptist churches. Allow me to define and highlight some of the characteristics of this genearation of women:

Wanton eyes – they were flirtatious.
Mincing – To skip, trip, take quick little steps.
Caul – A net that was woven into their hair.
Round tires like the moon – a neck pendant.
Mufflers – Long veil.
Ornaments of the legs – Drawing attention to their legs.
Wimples – Wide cloak.
Crisping pins – A bag or purse.
Glasses – Mirror.
Hood – headdress, mitre, diadem.
Proverbs 7:10 - And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
Gill suggests, “the word (attire) signifies one fitted to her body, neat and well shaped, to recommend her”. How often do we see this in the appearance of Christian women (and men) today.
Heavenly apparel.
Revelation 6:11 - And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Revelation 7:9,13,14 - After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; . . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

The word "robes" is translated from a Greek word that means a "stole" or long-fitting gown (as a mark of dignity):— long clothing (garment), (long) robe. This certainly gives us some perspective on how God dresses the inhabitants of heaven. I am not suggesting that we all wear robes but I am suggesting that we dress our selves in a manner that is in keeping with the modesty a robe affords.
Biblical nakedness and indecency.
Genesis 3:7,21 - And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

In verse 7 we find that Adam and Eve made aprons of fig leaves because they realized they were naked. Their new found knowledge told them this was wrong. An apron has reference to a belt for the waste; girdle, loin covering. While they knew they were not properly covered they did not know what it meant to be properly covered.

In verse 21 God made them coats of skin. A coat is derived from a word that has the meaning to cover. It has reference to a tunic, a long shirt-like garment, a robe.
God made the clothing from animal skin; hide, leather. God did not simply add to what they had made he used an entirely different material.

The Bible says that God clothed them. The Hebrew word from which we have the word translated "clothed" mean to wrap around, i.e. (by implication) to put on a garment or clothe (oneself, or another).
It is important to realize the lessons that we are taught here. God did not consider them clothed in the aprons of fig leaves. More than the loins must be covered to be properly clothed. An exposed belly and/or chest are not properly clothed.
Isaiah 20:4 - So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
To have the buttocks uncovered it nakedness.

Exodus 28:42 – And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
From the loins even unto the thigh is nakedness. Loins has reference to the waist or the small of the back, hips; while thigh is translated from a word meaning to be soft; the thigh (from its fleshy softness). From the waist to the knee is nakedness.
Nahum 3:5 – Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.
The skirt to the face reveals the nakedness. The word "discover" means to denude, strip. The word "skirts" has means to hang down, a bottom edge. So if one were to take the bottom edge of a robe and pull it up to their face they are exposing their nakedness.

Jeremiah 13:26 - Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear.
Isaiah 47:1-3 – Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.
An uncovered thigh is uncovered nakedness.

John 21:7 – Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
A fisher’s coat was an outer garment specifically designed for fisherman to use in their work. The word "naked" is translated from a Greek word that means unclad, ill clad, clothed in the undergarments only. Peter, only in his undergarments was improperly clothed. Often times bathing suits are nothing more than glorified undergarments.

Gender distinctive principles relating to appearance.

In dress.

Deuteronomy 22:5 - The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

"Shall not wear that which pertaineth" is all translated from one Hebrew word meaning something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, dress, vessel or weapon): armour ([-bearer]). A woman is forbidden to wear any dress that it identified as masculine. Some want to make this simply a prohibition against women bearing arms in combat. Is there any article of clothing that is readily and universally identified with men? If so, women are forbidden to wear it.

We know it is speaking in terms of clothing because of the use of the word "garment" which is translated from a Hebrew word that conveys the idea of a cover assuming the shape of the object beneath; a dress, especially a mantle:— apparel, cloth(-es, -ing), garment, raiment. The Hebrew word is used 29 times in the King James Bible and is translated raiment 11 times, clothes 6 times, garment 6 times, apparel 2 times, cloth 2 times, and clothing 2 times.
Why is it if I were to adorn myself in a dress or a skirt people would think I was cross-dressing but if a woman adorns herself in a pair of pants she is exercising her liberty in Christ?

The Bible says that all who do this are an abomination which is something disgusting (morally). Why? For the very reason that it creates moral confusion. It blurs the lines of distinction between the sexes. It pushes along the agenda of the unisex mentality. There is no difference between men and women. We are experiencing the trama of a society that has lost in bearings as it relates to a distinction between the sexes. With women dressing like men and men acting like women are we surprised that moral confusion everywhere exists. If there is no difference between the sexes then we should not be surprised when women desire to be with women and men with men. There is nothing morally superior about a relationship between a man and a woman. We are the same. I am afraid that many Christian women do not realize that they are adding to the confusion when they insists on wearing men's apparel.

Exodus 28:32 – Breeches are only mentioned in relation to the Priest (men). Admittedly this particular garment was a undergarment of sorts to provide decency as the priest were performing their priestly duties.
The practice of girding up the loins.
Job 38:3 - Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Job 40:7 - Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
This is the process whereby a man would take the hem of the back of his garment and pull it through his legs and tuck it in his girdle (belt) in order to provide greater freedom of movement when working, running, or in battle. He would in effect make himself a pair of pants by girding up his loins. I think there may be a reason why God told Job to "gird up thy loins like a man." Not like a woman, but like a man. I was not able to find anywhere where we can be sure that women were girding up their loins??? Woman would lift the hem of their garment in order to carry items, much like we have seen picture of pioneer women with their long dresses or aprons, feeding chickens or collecting eggs.

In hair length
1 Corinthians 11:4-16 - Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

Verse 14 declares that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him.
Verse 15 declares that a woman’s long hair is her glory and covering.
Verse 16 declares there is no precedence for women praying uncovered or men praying covered.
It seems apparent to me that God intended for their to be a distinction between male and female and that distinction was to be observed in both apparel and hair length.
DRESS CODES
The minute someone suggest a dress code the cries of legalism go up and you would have thought that some one suggested cutting off the heads of dissenters. Dress codes are a part of life. The fact is most of us have lived with them our whole life. We have done so with little complaint until the church attempts to define Christian attire soley for the context of Church functions. I thought it would be interesting to see some of the dress codes that are required by different organizations. Anyone can go on the internet and find all the dress codes you care to look at. The fact is most organizations have them. Which according to some people would mean that they are legalist!

Neat and clean appearance. Comfortable footwear (no open toed shoes). No shirts with any type of tasteless words or pictures. NO SWEATPANTS, NO “DAISY DUKE” SHORTS, NO CROP TOPS, NO BAGGY JEANS. Baggy pants are a safety hazard. Boys MAY NOT wear earrings. Girls may wear earrings, but no body other piercings are acceptable for either boys or girls. NO EXCEPTIONS. No visible tattoos. No black fingernail polish or dark lip liner.

This is for volunteers at Pony Land in Angleton, Texas

"Business Casual" attire means: A long or short-sleeved dress shirt (collared or turtleneck), and/or a sweater. Dress slacks, khaki pants, or dress jeans. Appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots. Excluded Items: · Sleeveless shirts · Shorts · T-shirts, jerseys, or sports apparel (unless appropriate for the event (e.g., a basketball clinic), team-identified, and approved by the team) · Headgear of any kind while a player is sitting on the bench or in the stands at a game, during media interviews, or during a team or league event or appearance (unless appropriate for the event or appearance, team-identified, and approved by the team) · Chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player's clothes · Sunglasses while indoors · Headphones (other than on the team bus or plane, or in the team locker room)

This is the NBA Dress Code

Unacceptable attire in all classes: Any clothing that is worn, torn, frayed has patches or holes. Sweat clothing or workout attire such as sweat shirt, sweat pants, leotards, tights and jogging suits. T-shirts. Bare feet. Bathing suits. Beach sandals, flip flops and thongs. Bare midriffs. Extreme mini-skirts. Halter and bra tops. Sheer or see-through clothing. Tank tops, sleeveless or muscle shirts. Undergarments worn as outer garments.

This is the dress code for all United Airlines employees who wish to occupy available seats on any flight.

*NO HEADGEAR OF ANY TYPE IS ALLOWABLE INSIDE THE BUILDING*
Males:The male student will wear a collared shirt (golf type, sport shirt, dress shirt) and dress slacks (no jeans or colored denims). An undershirt may be worn under the collared shirt.
All shirts are to be tucked in or if a ribbed golf shirt, may be worn outside falling slightly below the belt line. No logo T-shirts may be worn. No open-toed shoes can be worn in the clinical areas. Socks are to be worn at all times and must cover the ankles.
Hair will be trimmed, neat, well groomed and cut above the collar or worn pulled back and fastened at the nape of the neck. Facial hair is acceptable but must not be long enough to prevent the effective use of masks and other barrier devices.
Jewelry will be kept to a minimum with no body-piercing showing (e.g., nose, cheek, tongue, eyebrow, lip, etc.) other than single small stud earrings in the ear lobes.
Females:The female student will wear a sleeved blouse or shirt with no plunging necklines, midriff or navels showing.
No tight-fitting, slacks, jeans or colored denims are acceptable. An undershirt may be worn under the blouse or shirt. No logo T-shirts may be worn.
Socks that come above the ankle are to be worn at all times. No bare skin can be visible. No open-toed shoes in the clinical areas.
Jewelry will be kept to a minimum with no body-piercing showing (e.g., nose, cheek, tongue, eyebrow, lip, etc.) other than single small stud earrings in the ear lobes.
Hair will be trimmed, neat and well groomed. Long hair will be worn up on the top of the head or pulled back at the nape of the neck and securely fastened to prevent it from falling forward toward a simulator, laboratory equipment or patient when leaning down. Makeup should be kept to a minimum at all times.

This is the dress code for the University Of Michigan School of Dentistry

We probably all have a personal dress code. The question is from whence did we derive the principles for developing the dress code. I think in light of the aforementioned scripture the following can be considered a modest attempt at applying these principles to our own appearance.
APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES TO MEN AND BOYS
Swimming.
Do we shed the shirt?
Are the trunks cut high and/or low and/or very tight?

Pants
Too lose - Do they expose the buttocks and/or the underwear?
Too tight - Do they leave little to the imagination?
Too short - Is any of the thigh exposed? When sitting, playing, reaching, bending over.
Shirts
Do they reveal the belly? When reaching, playing, jumping, etc. . . .
Do they reveal the chest? Shirts should be buttoned up.
Is it too tight so that it leaves little to the imagination?
Is it too loose so that it gapes open at inappropriate locations?

Is the apparel feminine in nature?


APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES TO WOMEN AND GIRLS
Swimming
Bikinis? - What is exposed?
One-piece bathing suits? - What is exposed?
Do they reveal cleavage?
Are they cut too high, too low, or too tight?
Are they too loose?
Is it clingy material?

Skirts and dresses.
Are they too tight drawing attention to the hips?
Are they too loose revealing flesh?
Are they too short revealing the thigh in any normal position?
Do they have slits? Slits themselves can be a source of temptation to some men.
Are the slits high enough to reveal the thigh when walking or sitting?
Do skirts fall so low around the loins that the midsection is revealed when reaching, leaning, or bending over?

Blouses and dresses.
Are they too tight drawing attention to the bossom?
Are they too low revealing cleavage, even if only when bending over?
Are blouses cut so high that the midsection is revealed when reaching, leaning, or bending over?
Are they so loose that they gape open providing glimpses of flesh and nakedness?

Is the apparel masculine in nature?
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR OUR APPEARANCE
Holiness in appearance is the objective.

2 Cor. 7:1 – Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Not just the spirit but the flesh as well. This would include how we dress ourselves.

1 Peter 1:15,16 – But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Conversation has reference to lifestyle which would include our appearance.

1 Pet. 2:9 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
One way to do this is by dressing with shamefacedness and sobriety.

1 Thess. 4:7 – For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
Holiness in appearance is included.
Phil 1:27 – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Our lifestyle which includes our appearance is to be in keeping with the gospel wherein the righteousness of God is reavealed.
Titus 2:12 – Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Soberness, righteousness, and godliness should characterize our appearance.

These things matter for those who want to please God.

They have no effect on our justification for either good or evil. I have dealt with that fully on another ocassion. They do have an effect on the degree to which we are pleasing to God.

Ro 8:8 - So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

1Th 4:1 - Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

Col. 1:9,10 - For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Heb 13:21 - Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1Jo 3:22 - And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
We do have a responsiblity as believers to please God. We are called, exhorted, and challenged to do so. This certainly includes our appearance. How we choose to dress ourselves. It matters.

There is a day of accounting hastening on.
2Co 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
People say its only what's in the heart that matters. This is patently unscriptural. The Bible says right here that we are going to be judged for the things done in the body, whether it be good or bad. As believers if we dress badly we will suffer loss of reward. As believers if we dress in a way pleasing to the Lord we will be rewarded accordingly.

Ro 14:12 - So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Lastly, I am most thankful for this verse. We will each give account to God for ourselves. It is not a matter of pleasing parents, preachers, children, sunday school teachers but God. My only plea is that we not deceive ourselves believing that the judgment will be according to anything but truth as it is recorded in His word. We must approach our appearance with sobriety and honesty. Let us help each other to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God and let us revel in the beauty of holiness.