Pastoral Letter 04.07.2022
Dear Church Family,
This past Sunday we completed the three-part “God’s Design for Manhood and Womanhood” series. In these sermons I have sought to convey the biblical foundations and core principles. If I had taught these things fifteen years ago, the teaching would have been much more theoretical for me. But having now been married for twelve years, and having five children, and bearing primary responsibility for my household, this teaching about God’s design for men and women is not theoretical to me. I have been plodding through the trenches of real and messy family life, and I have sought to live in accordance with the principles and priorities that I taught in these three sermons. I do it imperfectly, of course! Growing as a man who faithfully takes responsibility as an imitator of Jesus is a lifelong journey, and it is a journey that deserves my wholehearted devotion. Although I am imperfect, God’s standard is perfect and good, and the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts one degree at a time so that we better reflect His design and accomplish His purpose.
I want to encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to be diligent to grow in the things you have learned – and to make sure that this growth process takes place within an environment of grace. What the Bible teaches about manhood and womanhood is worlds apart from what the world teaches. We have all been influenced by the world to one degree or another, and the presence of sin within our own hearts is always ready to cooperate with worldly thinking. Further complicating things for ordinary Christians is the painful reality that much of evangelical culture is compromised on these issues. So be sure of this: it is a process to un-learn faulty thinking and to put sound teaching into actual practice. And it is also a process to re-structure our lives toward greater levels of faithfulness. As a pastor, my desire is that you would engage in this process with joy.
You, dear Christian, are secure in Christ; the Father is decisively for you; you are justified by grace; you can never be more a son or daughter than you already are. Our sins – including any abortion-related sins or sins of immorality or failures to honor the order that God has established – are forgiven on account of Jesus’ sacrifice. Therefore, you can experience God’s instruction and correction and re-direction as a wonderful privilege to trust Him more fully, to follow Him more faithfully, and to bear good fruit more abundantly. How do we grow? This way: one step of obedience at a time – one act of loving service, one word of kindness, one humble resolve to keep quiet, one costly sacrifice . As we do this, God’s grace is already shining, and good habits grow, and relationships are strengthened, and joy increases, and our hearts are enlarged for the next step of obedience. Therefore, with gladness that your Savior has crushed the head of the serpent, take up the shield of faith and press on!
Although the three-part sermon series is complete, I get the sense that we’re not done paying attention to these matters. You have heard God’s Word, and some of you – perhaps many of you – are in a position where you want to lean in and experience growth. This is at it should be. The point of hearing God’s Word is not to get talking points to use against a fellow Christian who is at a different stage of spiritual maturity or who has a different blind spot than the one you have. The point, rather, is to be earnest for your own walk and to put God’s Word into practical action.
If you find yourself in a place where you have been already been pursuing God’s design for manhood and womanhood, and the previous three sermons functioned as a good reminder but now you’re ready to move on to the next thing, that’s fine by me. Or maybe you just really need to focus your attention elsewhere at the moment. In either case, feel free (and guilt-free) to ignore the “digging deeper” opportunities that I discuss below.
But for those of you who are wrestling with how to bring your life and marriage and family into greater conformity with God’s design, I encourage you along the following lines:
1) Husbands and wives, talk about these things as a married couple. How can you more effectively put God’s design into practice?
2) Men, find a brother or two; ladies, find a sister or two; and talk stuff out. Fight the good fight together!
3) If you’d like me to speak to a practical question that you may have, email me your question. I might reply to you personally; I might address it in a written reflection; or I might wait until the event mentioned below.
4) Growing out of a conversation I had with someone earlier this week, and with the elders’ encouragement, I am seriously thinking about hosting a “Men and Women in the Trenches Q & A”, the purpose of which would be to give faithful answers to your questions on this topic. Stay tuned.
5) Finally, my intention is share some “digging deeper” written reflections to provide additional perspective on these important issues.
My desire in all this is to promote a “thick Word-saturated culture” in which the entire congregation is seeking to do life God’s way and in God’s strength. Without God’s strength, the whole thing becomes an empty shell. But with God’s empowering grace, the church exhibits the beauty of the Lord. And that is the whole point – to display the gospel of the glory of Christ to a dark and desperate world.
The invitation to all of us is to let His light shine just a little bit brighter through each of us and each of our households today!