Perseverance in Modesty

The other day I was on Facebook and came across a video that struck me. It was a video by CJ Mahaney entitled “What Guys Really Think”(click hyperlink to watch it). As I watched this video, I was humbled by the message. The video was about modesty.

Modesty. What comes to mind when you hear that word?

Do you roll your eyes and think of long dresses and lace? Most of us have heard that Christian women ought to strive to be modest. We have heard that we should not lure our brother in Christ to sin. We have heard that it’s our character that matters more than our clothing; therefore, we ought to spend our time making our character beautiful. We know all these things. We have heard these things in church, in youth group, and in books. However, I have a question for you that maybe you haven’t thought of before. In my life, this question has been something that has affected the way I have thought about modesty. As a sister in Christ, I would like to take a couple minutes and challenge you with it:

How does the Cross affect the way I dress?

At first when I asked myself this question, I honestly was dumbfounded. I did not really know how the Cross affected the way I dress. However, the more I thought about it, the more convicted I was. Here is what I realized: When I choose to dress the way I want to dress, I communicate that I do not submit to Christ’s lordship in my life. When I choose to dress the way I want to dress, I communicate that my desires are more important than anything else.

I show that my desires are….

            More important than aligning myself with the Word of God
Which calls me to live a life of purity
Which calls me to practice modesty and self-control
Which calls me to be chiefly concerned with following Christ and pursuing holiness rather than my attire

More important than edifying my brothers in Christ
Who are visually stimulated individuals
Who struggle daily with lust
Who battle with keeping their thoughts pure and honoring to Christ
Who walk across campus seeing immodestly dressed women and feel like it is a minefield 
            More important than being set apart from the world
Who dress however they want
Who dress in a way to make them feel approved of and accepted
Who dress to call attention to themselves
Who dress to flaunt their beauty and lure men sexually
Who Christ has called me to be set apart from

Girls, I don’t know if you are as challenged by this reality as I am, but I know that when I stop and put that into words, my eyes almost well up with tears. I realize that my “simple” act of disobedience communicates all of these painful truths about what I believe.

I know you are probably thinking, why in the world is Emily Guyer writing a blog post about this? I am emailing you today to challenge each of you in this area. As temperatures get warmer, shorts get shorter, straps get smaller, and necklines of shirts get lower. The reason why I am writing to you today to encourage you as a sister in Christ to glorify Christ in everything you do, including the way you dress.

I encourage you not to grow lazy and stop thinking about the way you dress. I encourage you not to believe the world’s lies about your value and beauty. I encourage you not to seek to gain approval or prove yourself by the way you dress. Christ has made you different from the world. He has defeated your sinful desires. He has written His law on your heart and has given you the Holy Spirit to empower you to live it out.

Therefore, be dead to sin. Do not be conformed to this world. Do not be enslaved to the flesh. Be alive in Christ. Be free to passionately pursue Christ. Be transformed by the gospel.
·         I encourage you to obey God’s Word and walk as children of the light.
·         I encourage you to be holy as God is holy.
·         I encourage you to build up your brothers in Christ. Fight this battle with them.
·         I encourage you to recognize your responsibility in the body of Christ to edify one another. Do not be like the adulterous woman in Proverbs 30:20 who “eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’”
·         I encourage you to be different than the world.

I know that this is a lot to take in, and I am sure you think, “Okay, so what does this mean practically?” This does not mean that you have to dress in a masculine way or can’t enjoy fashion. If you struggle in determining whether or not an outfit is glorifying to the Lord, there is a helpful handout called “Modesty Heart Check” that I would encourage you to walk through (click  hyperlink to view it). Talk with your mentors at church. Come by my office in Student Life. Chat with the ladies in Women’s Life. There are a lot of resources out there, so I encourage you to take advantage of them.

I love you ladies! Thanks for pursuing Christ. Keep on seeking to please Him.

Emily Guyer works in the Student Life office at Southeastern. She is from Greensboro, North Carolina and graduated from Liberty University in 2009 with a B.A. in Communications. Emily is married to Michael Guyer, a student at SEBTS pursuing an M.Div in Advanced Biblical Studies. She and her husband are members of Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, and truly love getting to serve and grow within the local church. She has a passion for discipling young women and seeing the gospel transform lives. Emily hopes that one day that passion will lead her to serve overseas with a Muslim people group alongside her husband.

Get Going!

Monday, May 2nd we are having a special time of prayer and fellowship for the 2011 ladies who are preparing to leave for the mission field through the 2+2/3 program. Please join us as we pray for the women and encourage them. Free childcare is available, contact the Women's Life Office to register your child by Friday, April 29th.  

Monday, May 2nd at 7 pm
SEBTS Campus

For more information please contact or 761-2340.  

Running with Perseverance

“Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the same, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Heb. 12:1-2, ESV)

            Have you had a difficult goal that took perseverance to complete? Several years ago, I signed up for my first half-marathon. I had a running buddy, determined the date of the race, and set out to train. Training was sometimes difficult, but I tried to be mindful of the race. The day of the race, my partner and I arrived to the parking lot early to get our numbers, warm-up, and stretch. Because of the humid, sultry Mississippi heat, the race was to begin at 5:30 a.m. When the time arrived, we all lined up on the starting line. My partner encouraged “holding back” at the beginning of the race. (When tons of people start out at the beginning of a race, many just sprint out ahead of everyone.) This particular race was 14.1 miles, a little farther than a half due to the marathoners turning around at the half-way point. The gun sounded…

            For about the first seven miles, I felt great. “This is no big deal,” I thought to myself. About mile eight, however, the sun started to come up, and the Mississippi humidity began to blanket itself all over us. Mile eight was also where my running partner picked up the pace. I started to run solo. Mile nine… I started getting thirsty. To distract myself, I tried to talk to the lady that was running next to me. She had on a 50-state marathon shirt. I asked her about her “favorite marathon,” but after a few short sentences, it was apparent that she didn’t want to talk. Mile 10… “Man, this is hard,” I thought to myself. “Keep going.” Mile 11… “Why am I doing this?” I tried to convince myself that I had only three more miles to go. Mile 12… “Oh my…” By mile 13, I thought about my Baptist Student Director in college. He always used to ask us, “What is the spiritual application of this?” I tried to concentrate on that question. My initial thought was, “Um, don’t run a half-marathon!” but then I thought about the word persevere. Persevere is sometimes is difficult—just look at the ending of the ending of the word—severe

           The writer of Hebrews compares the Christian life to a race, and he calls it a race of endurance or perseverance. In a race, like the one we run in our Christian lives, it is definitely one of endurance. Instead of a sprint, it is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day process. (Faith in Lord, as Hebrews 11 tells us, is very much part of this process.) Instead of looking to the clock at the finish, we look to Jesus—the author and perfecter/finisher of our faith. We not only look to him for the eternal perspective, but He is our example during the process. We also find our strength in Him (Phil. 4:13). 

            My thoughts were interrupted by cheers. I could see the end of the race in sight. I picked up my pace. When I crossed the finish line, I was so excited. Later that day, I reflected more on the truths of Hebrews 12. The truth of Scripture is profound and deep. It calls us to “throw off sin,” look to Jesus, and run—with perseverance, of course.
 Kathy King grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. After college, she served as a Journeyman in Madrid, Spain. Currently, Kathy is a student at Southeastern pursing her M. DIV in Christian Ministries and M.A. in Biblical Counseling. She is a counseling intern for the Women’s Life Office and a member of the Summit Church. Eventually, Kathy would like to do Member Care for missionaries on the field. Her hobbies include running, photography, writing, and being outside.

Satisfied and Complementarian? Part III

Today is the final post in our 3-day series from The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood article Satisfied and Complementarian.  To look at the past two days click here & here.   

Not a One-Way Street

Fourth, we must realize that God's plan of male headship is not all "for" men and "against" women. Rather, this position of leader or head that God gives to men does not come without some heavy responsibilities. Ephesians 5:25 says that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ also loved the church "and gave Himself up for her. How much sacrificing, according to Scripture, are husbands to do for their wives? This comparison to Christ indicates that they are to basically give up everything--to sacrifice deeply for her benefit. Later, in verses 28 and 29, Paul says, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church."

To add to this, Peter says in 1 Peter 3:7 that men who do not live with their wives in this manner will have their prayers hindered. There should be no doubt based on these passages about the manner in which God expects men to lead (loving, self-sacrificial, nurturing) and the fact that there are consequences for not doing so. Nothing in Scripture advocates a demanding, oppressive leadership style from men. On the contrary, the exact opposite is commanded (Matthew 20:25-28). In regard to church leadership, 1 Peter 5:1-4 again gives the demeanor with which men are to carry out their leadership (not lording it over anyone, verse 3). Hebrews 10:17 makes it clear that God will demand an account out of these men for the way they governed the ministries of which they were in charge. Church leadership is not just a matter of using and recognizing gifts, but also an avenue with which comes much responsibility. Women can rejoice in the fact that God is watching and will hold men accountable for how they lead and treat women. This is not just a one-way street. Furthermore, these passages do say something to women about having high standards for the men in their lives. It is not wrong to expect and encourage this type of behavior and demeanor in a man. It is biblical to do so. 1 Peter 3:4 says that a married women who does not have this type of a husband can and should still influence that man by her own gentle, quiet, and chaste behavior. Single women, too, have every right to look for and to accept nothing less than this type of a man in deciding whom to marry. God is glorified by women upholding and supporting these standards.

Eternal Rewards

Fifth, each of us will be rewarded for faithfully sticking to and living by what we know to be true in Scripture. 1 Peter 1:13 tells us to "fix our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ." I remember asking myself in college one time, about two years after I had come to Christ, "How did the apostles do it? How did they endure so much hardship even to the point of martyrdom for Christ?" Then I came across the above verse. The apostles' entire hope was being placed on the future eternal rewards that Christ Himself would give them for obedience and faithfulness, not on anticipated rewards or recognition in this life. It may not be fun to be a godly wife in a marriage with a man who does not know Christ. It may not be fun to go home to an empty apartment instead of going out and partying at a bar on "ladies night out" with others from the office. It may not be fun to take an elderly neighbor shopping once a week or to endure the hostility of a boss or co-worker who doesn't know the Lord and is operating out of selfishness and pride. It may not be easy to break off a relationship because of high standards of sexual morality. It may not be easy to watch a man with lesser teaching or speaking abilities than you receive a position of leadership in the church. These choices (ministries) are not seen and applauded by others as the public teaching ministry of a pastor usually is. But they are just as visible to and valuable in God's eyes as are the ministries of music and preaching we see every Sunday morning from a church platform. James 1:27 tells us that "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father (is) to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." This is a very humble and often unseen type of ministry, and yet God calls that "pure" religion. Without a Scriptural definition of ministry, we will live our lives in frustration, always looking for "ministry" (a visible, public position with a title) and perhaps overlook the less visible ministries God has for us.

About four months after graduating from Moody Bible Institute several years ago, I was back on campus for a concert with one of my former classmates. During the intermission, we went for a walk and crossed paths with a janitor. My friend remembered him from her days as a student and he remembered her. We stopped and talked with him for a while. School for that term had been in session for about three weeks. One of his comments really touched my heart. He said, "It gets lonely around here during the summer. I'm so glad to see them kids come back. I just love them kids! I just love them kids!" Thinking about my own selfish tendencies, I thought, "If I had his job I probably would have said, 'The students are back and they're messing up the floors I just cleaned!'" But not this man. Even though he pushed a broom for a living, he did it as a ministry and as a service to the students he loved. How many people would miss him and his colleagues' services if he went on strike or quit? Quite a few, I would imagine. I remember thinking in my mind as I listened to him that his ministry and his heart were just as precious to God as a powerful, well-delivered sermon by the president of the school or any of the faculty (all of whom I greatly respect) and he will have his eternal reward for his ministry to the faculty and students even though there is little public recognition of it here and now.

Forbidden Fruit

Finally, if you really look at it, only a few things are specifically forbidden to women in Scripture—usurping their husbands' authority in the home, teaching the Bible to adult men, and serving as a pastor or elder in a church. The limitations really are very few. However, often these restrictions can appear to us much as the forbidden tree did to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Our minds and hearts become so focused on what we "can't" have that we lose sight of everything else that is open to us and thus harm ourselves and others in the process.  [See "But What Should Women do in the Church?" - Grudem and p. 58 in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.. I have been through periods where I have felt shelved or brushed off in ministries and churches simply because I am a woman. It is frustrating and hurtful. But Christ Himself wasn't recognized for who He really was (John 1:11), nor did He fight for that recognition (Philippians 2:5-11). Yet did He have a lasting ministry? The Apostle Paul spent a significant amount of time in various prisons. Yet did he have a lasting ministry? Both had ministries because they walked with God step by step, not because they fought for positions in ministry. God blessed them in the end.

To borrow a quote from 19th Century missionary Hudson Taylor, "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply." "And reward," I might add. We must remember first of all that it is God Himself, not ourselves, our egos, our friends or family, that we must seek to please. Pleasing Him and abiding in Christ involves obeying God's commands (John 15:10). For women, that means obeying the commands to submit to and support godly male leadership in the home and church and to refrain from stepping outside the boundaries God's Word sets for us.

 If I ask God to teach me how to delight myself in Him (Psalm 37:4), how to abide in Him (John 15:10), and ask Him help me to always have Christ as my first love (Revelation 2:4), then I can trust that He will see to it that I accomplish the "good works which God has prepared beforehand" for me to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), that my heart's desires will be fulfilled, and that recognition will come some day (Psalm 37:4-7). In the end, I may even get to hear from Him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master." Ten thousand years from now, won't that be all that really matters?

We invite you to check out more articles on the CBMW website here

Satisfied and Complementarian? Part II


Day 2 of our 3-day series on Satisfied and Complementarian by the Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. To see yesterday's post click here


 Value all People

Second, we can rejoice in the fact that no matter our gender, race, socioeconomic status, occupation, or position in the church, we are persons of worth in God's eyes and deeply loved by Him (Psalm 139). Although God created Adam and Eve with different roles, giving Adam the leadership role, both males and females bear the image of God. Genesis 1:27 states, "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Women equally bear the image of God and are full persons before Him. We live in a society that loves to define the value of people by their function or role in life. "You're a doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, movie star? Wow!" we say. "You're a janitor, a garbage collector? Oh," we say. This is an extremely unbiblical viewpoint on the worth of human beings. This is where Galatians 3:28 is rightly applied. "For there is neither Jew nor Greek (worth based on national or ethnic group identity), slave nor free man (worth based on economic class or social status), there is neither male nor female (worth based on gender); for you are all one in Christ Jesus." As women we can rejoice in the fact that God loves us and has a purpose for each of us individually just as much as He does any other person He has created, male or female, famous or not. We need to separate roles (functions we perform) from the value or worth of a person.

Abide in Christ

Third, if you are walking in fellowship with God, you will have a ministry. Jesus said in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." Notice the dichotomy here. Jesus said that if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit. In contrast, if we don't abide in him (focus on our relationship with Him first, seek to obey) then we won't bear fruit. This can be hard to discern at times, based on external appearances of activity. In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus chastises the church at Ephesus for being a "good" church on the outside. They tested prophets, would not put up with evil men, and endured hardship (verse 2-3), but their activity only covered up the fact that they had fallen from their first love--Christ Himself. They looked good on the outside but from Jesus' perspective they were not abiding in Him and in His eyes were not bearing real fruit. In verse 5, Jesus told them to repent from this sin or else He would take away what testimony they did have (their "lamp stand"). In contrast, we see other places in Scripture such as Mark 12:41-44 where seemingly obscure people, in this case a widow who offered all she had (only two small coins), have a true ministry in God's eyes.

So how does this apply to the role of women in the church today? If a woman is consistently growing and maturing in her walk with God by staying in the Word, obeying it, praying for God to make her life all He wants it to be, she will have a ministry in God's eyes. Based on the promise of John 15:5, she will bear fruit. This may mean working for Christian organizations and having a formal teaching and speaking ministry to other women, or it may mean being a godly influence in the home, a light in the secular workplace or in the neighborhood, caring for unwanted children or elderly people, sharing the gospel with a friend who doesn't know Christ, and so forth. When these activities are the overflow of a walk with God, they will have a reward from Him (Matthew 10:42).

On the other hand, if a woman has a formal, public "ministry," which includes having positions of authority in a church or ministry that God's Word forbids, then she risks having to face God and not being rewarded for her "ministry" because it was not done His way, according to the plan He laid out in Scripture. It is tempting for all of us to do things our way instead of God's way. One good way for both men and women to test motivations of the heart is to ask, "Am I willing to fulfill the tasks and duties of an office without the title or glory of the office?"

The pastor of a church I attended for several years often spoke fondly of his parents. His father spent many years as a milkman in order to support his family. This man not only delivered milk but went to visit his customers when they had illness or death in the family and "ministered" to them in a variety of ways. He also taught Sunday School and served as a lay leader in his church. Later in life, this man was able to attend Bible college and became a pastor just as his son (my pastor) had done. My pastor said that one day, a little while after his dad started pastoring a church, he asked his dad, "What's the difference between now and when you were a milkman?" His dad thought about it for a moment and replied, "Nothing really. It's just that now I get paid for it." Women (and men) who feel they do have "pastoral" gifts can still exercise those gifts in a variety of ways without actually being a pastor or an "official" teacher. Walking with God and bearing fruit, not activity alone, is to be our concern. We need to work hard at redefining "ministry" as Ephesians 4:11-12 does. "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ." Every believer is to have a ministry. A biblical definition of ministry does not mean the office of pastor or elder only. True joy comes not from holding an office or a position but rather from seeing God work in and through your life.

 Check back tomorrow for the final post!

Satisfied and Complementarian?

Today we are starting a 3-day series on living a satisfied life in ministry.  The posts are reblogged from The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, written by Kim Pennington.

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NASB).

"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you" (2 Peter 1:5-8, 10-11).

There they are for any who would receive them--instructions and promises from the Word of God as to how to have an effective ministry and receive a reward for that ministry someday in heaven.  It is interesting that in both verses, according to Jesus and the Apostle Peter, that which will make a woman (or a man for that matter) effective in her service to the Lord in this life has everything to do with her heart and character and not much to do with gifts and talents alone.

Much in gender role discussions today focuses upon the "right" of women to use their gifts in ministry and the "right" of women to retain their own identity apart from their husbands in a marriage relationship.  Neither of these issues are without merit in and of themselves.  In fact, the ongoing discussions about the current application of passages such as Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2 have caused us to more closely examine what really comes from Scripture, and what comes to us from tradition only (the issue of abuse of women, and the past neglect of women's gifts and skills).  An honest examination of these issues can't be but beneficial for us as individuals and for the church. 

However, recognizing before God  the full equality of a woman's personhood with her talents, skills, and gifts does not give us carte blanche permission to disregard any guidelines and standards that God's Word shows us for the role of a woman in the church and home. [see Able to Teach and Complementarian]
Nevertheless, the question always arises that if a woman is submissive to her husband (Ephesians 5:22) and/or if a woman refrains from teaching and holding positions of authority over men in the church (1 Timothy 2:12), how can she possibly expect to have a fulfilled life or a ministry of any sort?  Aren't her gifts, skills, talents, and personhood being displaced and thwarted by another?

My answer to that is no.  It is true that sexism and neglect of women has existed in the past and still does exist in some places.  But the answer to such problems does not lie in going to an opposite, unbiblical extreme.  Rather, the answer lies in both men and women adopting and adhering to a biblical view of the roles for both sexes in the home and church.  So, how is it possible for intelligent and gifted woman to live a satisfied life while adhering to the commands in Scripture to submit to male headship in the home and church and to refrain from some authoritative and teaching roles in the church? 


Relationship First

First, we must realize that our reason for existing is not primarily to do ministry tasks but to live in fellowship with God and seek His glory first. In John 17:3 Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God, not merely going to heaven. Colossians 1:16 states that we were created by God and for God, and in Isaiah 43:7, God states that people were created for His glory. That is why we exist--for no other reason than to glorify God. The Westminster Confession says, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Once we get our minds refocused to think that we exist for God and to enjoy Him (emphasis on relationship), then our focus becomes Him and not ourselves. It is only that relationship and fellowship with God through Jesus Christ and not activity alone that will satisfy the heart and please God.

Check back over the next few days for the remainder of the post.