The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘beauty

Truth and beauty

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For too long we’ve limited the demand of faithfulness to “telling the truth.” To this we must also add “showing His beauty.”

Read all of David Murray’s reasoning.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 15 September 2012 at 09:13

Posted in Christian living

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The beauty and glory of Christ

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The promised link: you can find all the addresses from the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary Conference on the beauty and glory of Christ on SermonAudio here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 8 September 2010 at 10:17

“Womanly Dominion”: an interview with Mark Chanski

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Please read through to the end of this interview for your opportunity to win a free copy of Mark’s book.

Mark Chanski is one of the pastors of the Reformed Baptist Church of Holland, Michigan, and has been since 1994.  Mark is married to Dianne, and he and his wife have four sons and one daughter.  He has recently authored the book Womanly Dominion (Calvary Press), a follow-up to Manly Dominion.  Mark was kind enough to agree to an interview about his new book.

Can you give us a précis of your new book on Womanly Dominion, and briefly explain your purpose in writing it?

The false stereotype of a Christian woman being a helpless and frail mouse, who passively shades herself under the parasol of her soft femininity, and adoringly waits for her husband to do all the heavy lifting, is shattered by the Scriptures.  I fear that some Christian ministries and literature, seeking to counter feminism, have drawn such a sub-biblical picture of Christian womanhood.

Yes, the godly Christian woman wears beautiful ornaments that are “precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4b).  But her jewelry is not only the necklace of “a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4a), but also the bracelets of “strength and dignity” (Proverbs 31:17, 25).

Women, just like men, are called to the grand and challenging mission of subduing and ruling in their God-assigned spheres of life — in personal godliness, in emotional resilience, in marital life, in motherhood, in the church, in the public square.  That’s what we explore in Womanly Dominion.

I like Russell Moore’s summarizing endorsement blurb on the back of the book jacket: “We do not need a generation of evangelical Stepford Wives (weak-minded women who robotically smile and sweetly whisper “yes, dear” to their husbands’ every wish), nor do we need a generation of Proverbs 31 Ann Coulters (brilliant but sharp-tongued women who stridently bark out a conservative world view).  Instead, the Scripture calls us to promote Christ-honoring heroic women with a gentle and quiet spirit that is beautiful in the sight of the Lord.”

I see contemporary feminism, with its high octane propaganda, luring our girls and women away from their God-assigned posts and priorities.  The Scriptures summon them to a rival life full of rich challenge, adventure, and fulfillment.  I’ve sought to inspire women with the greatness of their mission.

One could argue that there has been a recent glut of books in the Christian market to do with masculinity, femininity, and family.  What makes another one necessary, and what is distinctive about your book on Womanly Dominion?

Just last night, I took my bride out for her fiftieth birthday.  We struck up a discussion with our 20 year old unchurched waitress.  She spontaneously bubbled over concerns regarding her role in life as a woman, and her boyfriend’s disappointing incompetence as a man.  She said that all the traditional roles have been scrapped, and that she’s so confused in our “make it up as you go” culture.  I believe that my earlier book, Manly Dominion, and now Womanly Dominion, have their fingers on the sickly pulse of our needy culture.

I mentioned above my concern about commonly distributed sub-biblical pictures of womanhood.  I’ve sought to take into consideration important gender themes from the whole counsel of God.

The book is a call for women to assertively subdue and rule in their lives according to the Genesis 1:28 mandate.  But today’s environment is cunningly hostile.  Godly women must accomplish their mission in a feminism-soaked society that is daily seducing them to leave their crucial womanly posts, take up manly roles, and conform to a godless egalitarian culture.  Their challenging assignment calls them to wed initiative-taking dominion with humble-spirited submission.

The book confronts head on the God-defying philosophy of the politically-correct establishment, while avoiding the tunnel-vision narrowness of some unbiblically ‘hyper-submissive,’ ‘home school only,’ ‘no higher education for women’ type writers.  It presents a theologically serious, refreshingly realistic, biblically based portrait of the strong, competent, spiritually-minded woman of God.

It’s penned in a popular style in order to “win over” women who are presently thinking according to worldly patterns, to “stir up” women who are half-heartedly plodding without inspiration, and to “cheer on” women who are laboring hard at their posts.

Most books on womanhood are written by women.  This one is written by a man who is a pastor who has given his life to studying the Scriptures.  I think women will find the treatment from the perspective of a man, husband, and father to be refreshing and edifying.

In your opinion, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Reformed Baptist teaching and practice with regard to the role of women?  How are you seeking to address these in your book?

I don’t know that I’m qualified to critique ‘Reformed Baptist’ teaching and practice.  But I have heard many of my pastor colleagues expressing how ‘outsiders’ caricature the women of their churches based on partial testimonies and antagonistic biases.

People have said, “Oh, the women of that church are not allowed to teach or preach or lead publicly.  They must be a weak-minded, passive-temperamented, male-dominated, bare-footed, and unsophisticated band of pathetic females.”

This makes me laugh – especially in the case of my own congregation!  Our church is teeming with women of the highest calibre who rise to the top as cream in our community.  They are impressive in their appearance, style, demeanour, and conversation.  Their strong personalities are recognized and sought after for their leadership skills and moral convictions.  Our men are disproportionately, so strikingly, strong pillars in our community, and it’s by experience that I’ve drawn the axiom: “Behind every mighty man of God, there’s typically an even mightier woman of God as his helpmeet.”

I would love to put Womanly Dominion into the hands of any feminism-brainwashed criticizers of the bible’s view of womanhood.  I think generally its content will instinctively resonate with readers, leading them to be impressed with the Scriptures’ elite calling for gifted females.

What do you think are the greatest challenges to godly femininity in our day and culture?

1. The lack of true manhood. Where are the men to husband these promising young Christian women?  Where are the fathers to raise up a generation of daughters who must stand against a hurricane of polluted propaganda?  Where are the pastors who are willing to stand firm against the tide of feminism?

2. The lack of biblical motherhood. Where are the women who will model Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5 home-making, child-nurturing, husband-focused, kingdom-inspired godliness to our daughters?  The lack of fully committed, stay-at-home mothers is very troubling.

3. The plague of sexual impurity. Young women are being culturally seduced into becoming erotically immodest in their wardrobe, aggressively forward in their flirting, and sexually promiscuous in their relationships.  They’re made to feel that such patterns are necessary to achieve social popularity and relevance.

4. The lack of biblical teaching. There is a famine for hearing the words of the Lord on the theme of God honouring womanhood.  Regarding this theme, Christ’s sheep are by and large grazing on feminized sawdust instead of biblical alfalfa.

5. The trend toward marrying later. In the US, many forces are pushing back wedding dates toward the age of 30.

Can you briefly describe the extremes of error to which a Christian woman might go in seeking to cultivate godly femininity (I am thinking, for example, of sinful domineering or sinful effacement)?  How does a woman of God walk a Biblically balanced path?

Let me here provide an excerpt from the book.  I’m here writing about Abigail’s bold yet tactful confrontation of David in 1 Samuel 25 regarding her endangered family:

I’ve heard some argue that Abigail was in the wrong here -that she should have kept on knitting with a gentle and quiet spirit, that she had no business to act so decisively without first submissively consulting with her husband Nabal.  I strongly disagree.  There are times when it’s a subordinate’s duty to act contrary to an authority’s wishes.  Should a woman submit to an abortion simply because her evil husband requests it?  When a woman’s inaction will result in the breaking of God’s Law and Word, she must move.

Matthew Henry hits the mark:

We have here an account of Abigail’s prudent management for the preservation of her husband and family from the destruction that was just coming upon them; . . .  Abigail not only lawfully, but laudably, disposed of all these goods of her husband’s without his knowledge (even when she had reason to think that if he had known what she did he would not have consented to it), because it was not to gratify her own pride or vanity, but for the necessary defense of him and his family, which otherwise would have been inevitably ruined.

Such a praiseworthy interpretation of Abigail’s actions is vindicated by David’s commendation of this magnificent lady of dominion. “Then David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed, and from avenging myself by my own hand'” (1 Samuel 25:32-33, emphasis added).

There’s a time for a woman to resignedly sit back and wait for the Lord to change her husband’s mind.  And there’s a time for a woman to assertively rise up and take matters into her own hands.  Abigail knew how to tell time.

Joe proudly parks his brand new four-wheel drive muscle truck in the driveway and excitedly asks his wife to come out and take a look.  “I know we talked about our buying a less expensive older model, but having spent most of the day in the showroom with the salesmen, I’m convinced that new is the way to go.”

Though the truck is a sleek and handsome black, Rachel sees red, especially when she reads the sticker price taped to the window-nearly $14,000 more than Joe planned to spend.  Rachel pays the bills and knows that this “mortgage payment” on the truck will send the whole family into a financial tailspin.  It’s not time for Rachel to smile and affirm her husband’s folly by gently and quietly returning to prepare dinner.  It’s time for her to discuss with her man the implications of this impulsive purchase and to suggest that he seriously consider returning the vehicle within the “24-hour no-questions-asked return policy.”

Abigails know how to tell time.

Abigail also knew how to remain sweet.  A besetting sin of many women is sharp-tongued argumentativeness.  “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9; see also 21:19; 25:24).  This was not Abigail’s style.  She was not arrogant and shrill, but assumed a humble posture and enlisted soft, self-effacing words: “Abigail . . . hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David, and bowed herself to the ground.  She fell at his feet and said, ‘On me alone, my lord, be the blame.'” She even called herself David’s “maidservant” (1 Samuel 25:23-24).  Abigail wonderfully combined bold assertiveness with humble sweetness.  Such a woman of dominion “wins” the hearts of men, as in the end, David actually proposed to the freshly widowed Abigail (25:39).

Should men – especially husbands – bother reading your book?  If so, why?

Absolutely!  If they’re not yet married, it’s a blueprint for what they should be looking for in a wife.  If they’re married, it will help them shepherd their wives toward the high country of biblical womanhood.  Men too have been subjected to false stereotypes regarding how their wives should act.  Men need to know and encourage the priorities of a God-honoring woman.

I’d also recommend that the men read the prequel, Manly Dominion.  There I call a male to strive to become a Man of Dominion worthy of a wife who is a Woman of Dominion.  We must get our own lives together if we’re to responsibly lead.

How important are role models and mentors to the development of godly femininity?  What would be your advice to older and younger women in cultivating these relationships and the maturity and humility required to profit from them?

Let me provide another excerpt.  I’m here writing about a woman’s responsibility to be about the business of Titus 2 (older women teaching younger women):

Avenues of such ministry in the church are uncountable.  Mrs. Schmidt may occasionally open up her home for book studies that last for six weeks in a row.  Emma may invite a group of young women to her home once a month for a gourmet lunch during which she instructively prepares the meal before their eyes, then at the table discusses a relevant angle on husband loving.  Julie may volunteer to come over and help clean the home of an overwhelmed mother of many, creating a day full of teachable moments and insights.  After the services, Mrs. Stewart may roam about the sanctuary, discreetly holding informal “counseling sessions” with her grateful yet unofficial flock of younger “clients.”

And a mature woman of dominion will not merely keep things shallow and surfacey.  Sure, she’ll be winsome and sweet.  But she’ll also be edifying and helpful.  Martha Peace writes in Becoming a Titus 2 Woman:

Often I will ask a younger woman, “What sins or what character weaknesses do you think God wants you to work on?”  They might reply something like, “pride, anger, fear, gossip, or selfishness.”  Once I asked a woman what she thought her sins were.  She could not think of any, so I asked her this, “If I could ask your husband what he would like for you to change, what would he say?”  Quickly, she gave me a list.

Younger women, there’s an important message for you here, too.  If you are a godly woman, wise older women should not need to exert great efforts to hunt you down.  You should be hungrily and eagerly seeking them out for their wisdom.  It is a sad evidence of worldly-minded hearts, when younger women disinterestedly rebuff the overtures of older women by detouring opportunities for mentoring relationships, in favor of easygoing shallow chats with the girls.

Are there any other particular books that you would recommend to Christian women of various ages and stages in life as a help to them in embracing the will and purpose of Christ for them?

1. Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

2. Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes.

3. The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace.

4. Will Medicine Stop the Pain? by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Laura Hendrickson.

What practical advice would you give to a young woman who said to you, “Pastor Chanski, what can I do to become like ‘the holy women who trusted in God’ (1Pt 3.5)?  How should I pursue true, Scriptural, God-pleasing womanhood?”

1. Read your bible daily with a humble and hungry heart.

2. Become a woman of fervent and daily prayer.

3. Find and join a church that’s committed to uncompromising Biblical Christianity.  Such a church will have its centrepiece the faithful exposition and preaching and application of the Scriptures.

4. Find at least one woman of exemplary godliness whom you can imitate and counsel with.

5. Commit yourself to a life of Christ-like, sacrificial selflessness.  John Flavel said: “He stood like a brass pillar till the last breath was beaten out of His nostrils.”  That’s how he served us, and that’s how we should be willing to serve Him.

6. Read Womanly Dominion: More than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit.

Thank you, Mark, for your time and effort both in writing this book, and in responding to these questions.

Competition: I have two free copies of Mark Chanski’s Womanly Dominion to give away.  The competition is open to female readers from Europe only.  (Sorry, others, and sorry, gentlemen – encourage your wife, mother, sister(s), daughter(s) and/or girlfriend to enter, and I will see if I can work up another competition for the fellows at some point.)

The ‘test’ is as follows: please identify one woman from Scripture or church history who you would adopt as a model and choose as a mentor (if you were able), and briefly explain why.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments section of the blog (as they might be a means of encouragement, edification and stimulation to other readers, and even if you are not eligible for the competition itself [just put in a line to that effect] – and I hope I get enough entries to at least be able to give away both books).  Although the thread will be left open, competition entries must be posted within one calendar week of the date of this post.  Please make sure you enter a valid and current email address with your comment, as I will need this to track you down and obtain your address for posting if you win.

After one week, I will ask Pastor Chanski to read through the comments/entries, and to select the two entries that he believes chime with the spirit and intent of his book, and are deserving (or, perhaps, needing!) a copy of the book.  I will send the books out as soon as the selection has been made.

Thank you.

Update: the competition is now closed.  However, please feel free to leave further responses if you would like to contribute.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 22 October 2008 at 10:00

A beast, on beauty

with 4 comments

I have slowed down slightly for the first time since coming back from Florida.  As I posted earlier, the day after my arrival I was involved in a funeral: always a sad time, especially when there was no clear profession of faith in Christ.  Nevertheless, there were opportunities to speak to members of the extended family, and I had four good conversations in which I hope, by various means and with varying degrees of clarity, I was able to speak something of the greatness of God in his majesty and mercy.

Friday was spent in preparation – both administrative and sermonic – for the Ladies’ Conference jointly organised by ourselves and a sister church in Stratford, East London, and hosted here in Crawley.  We had almost one hundred women from more than ten churches booked to attend, and I was responsible for this year’s ministry.  I had an awful night’s (lack of) sleep beforehand, not able to slow down in the evening, and then very disordered in mind into the small hours.

The conference itself seemed to go well, under God’s blessing.  I preached from 1 Peter 3.1-6 on Incorruptible beauty.  In the first session – Two beauties considered – I dove in with the context explained, in which I tried to locate the passage in its cultural and epistolary context, in which shame was the world’s weapon of choice to drive a besieged church away from distinctive godliness.  Peter calls the church not to a lukewarm capitulation, but to embrace what is definitely and definitively different about them as the people of God.  Then we moved on to look specifically at Peter’s counsel to women: the conduct encouraged.  Here we sought to identify what is a submissive and chaste attitude, and what it is not.  We then moved on to look at the command expounded, dealing with Peter’s concern for a moderate and modest mode of dress for Christian women.  Peter is not so foolish as to issue an absolute prohibition on haircare, decoration and attractive dress, as if ugliness is a register of holiness, but he urges saints to avoid the displays of vanity and ostentation current in the world.  Dress is not everything, but it is not nothing – it is not a matter of indifference.  Finally, we addressed the contrast emphasised between beauty that is merely outward and manward, and that which is inward and Godward.  Saving and sanctifying grace does not cripple women and destroy vibrant femininity, but rather enhances, trains and prunes women and their womanhood.  Peter establishes a definite priority for Christian women: Christ has liberated us, and called us to be his special treasure – we do not need to play the world’s games by the world’s rules, but can glory in our distinctiveness as his people.

This first session was followed by the ladies splitting into several groups to enjoy a chaired discussion based on questions previously circulated.  Then there was lunch, followed by the second preaching session.  We turned to True beauty cultivated, in which we addressed first the sphere of incorruptible beauty.  Although an attitude toward our dress that apes the world’s is generally a flag of allegiance that indicates either a shallow spirituality or simple carnality, Peter does not allow us to imagine that godliness consists in mere outward appearance.  In fact, we can wear an outfit comical for its pretensions to piety, and still have the heart of a harpy.  True beauty is in the hidden person of the heart.

But this beauty does not cut the jugular of personality, and render a woman dull, weak, limp, silent and pointless (see Proverbs 31).  So we turned to the spirit of incorruptible beauty, and looked at what it is to be gentle and quiet.  A composite picture emerges of a woman who is governed by the Holy Spirit and manifesting his fruit: humble, self-controlled, of unruffled temper, composed in spirit, gracious in word and deed, not easily provoked but kindly accommodating, as opposed to one who is self-centred, irritable and bad-tempered, easily-provoked and soon-slighted, thin-skinned and sharp-tongued, domineering and bolshy.  How does a woman pursue the former character and avoid the latter?  By praying for the Spirit of God to help her to understand the Biblical model, to enable her to recognise her deficiencies, and to grant grace for change; by asking friends and mentors to help her assess her state and progress; by cultivating a Biblical view of the world, shaking loose its grip on her and hers on it; by facing her sins and failings, repenting particularly of particular sins; by finding and following models in the Scriptures and in Christ’s church; and, by learning to pause (Ecc 5.2; Prv 14.29; 19.11).

But why bother with such hard and often unpleasant work?  Because of the spurs to incorruptible beauty.  This is a beauty which pleases God, preaches Christ, persuades men, promotes blessing upon oneself, one’s family, church and society, and puts you in good company – among the holy women.  I challenged those present to sustain that chain of vital godliness and vigorous womanhood represented by such as Sarah, and to give this generation a testimony to the saving and sanctifying grace of our sovereign King, and generations to come an example of what it means to be a true woman of God.

Once all the preaching was done there was about three hours of packing and clearing to be done, and I left for home quite weary.  Then on Sunday we had a Sunday Listen & Dine – a specifically evangelistic service in the morning followed by a meal at the church building.  This collective meal also functions as a means of providing the church family with a breather after the exertions of the conference.  We had several first time visitors, as well as a delightful group of stragglers hanging on after the Ladies’ Conference.  We invited Pastor Gearóid Marley of Chelmsley Wood Reformed Baptist Church to preach to us for the day.  He preached in the morning on The Saviour’s call and in the evening on Christ’s constraining love (sadly, an equipment malfunction meant that we lost much of the evening’s recording).  It was a good day, and our brother was earnest and sincere in calling men to Christ, and urging his people to follow hard after him.  Those visiting responded positively to the clarity of the preaching and the testimony of God’s people.  By the end of the day I was happy to head for home, and for bed.

Today has been something of a bits’n’bobs day – my lovely wife graciously removed my vigorous son from my vicinity fairly early on this morning, and left me to get an extra hour or so to catch up on lost sleep from the past few days.  I spent my time today fixing a broken brake light on the car, ordering some slabs to finish laying a patio in the garden, home administration (finances, correspondence and the like), editing all the church audio from my time away and since returning, and starting to put together the CDs for mailing out after the Ladies’ Conference.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 22 September 2008 at 17:53

“Womanly Dominion”

with 3 comments

It is the end of a long day here, in which I have been preaching at a ladies’ conference from 1 Peter 3.1-6 on Incorruptible beauty.  Just yesterday I received from Calvary Press several copies of a new book called Womanly Dominion: More Than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Mark Chanski (who has previously authored a book on Manly Dominion).  Although I have not yet had a chance to read it, I am looking forward to doing so.  In the next few days, I hope to post an interview with Pastor Chanski about his new book, at which time I should be giving away a couple of free copies to UK readers of this blog.  I also hope to provide a review in due course.  The list price for Womanly Dominion is $16.99, but I see that Solid Ground are selling it for the very reasonable price of $10.95 (purchase with Manly Dominion for a total price of $21.50).  I encourage you to see what Mark Chanski has to say.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 20 September 2008 at 19:56

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