A Very Special Day, Indeed

Happy Birthday, Sweetie

Ann & Jonathan @ Rebecca's wedding

Today, January 6, is very special. It’s my dear wife’s birthday (valor prohibits me from stating her age, as well as a healthy sense of self-preservation). I don’t know if I’ll do a very good job of pampering her today. It seems my “Pamper Gene” is defective. The kids and I do have a few nice presents for he, we’ll go out to eat at one of her favorite places and enjoy the day. I do know I’ll do a better job at saying “Happy Birthday” than this guy did; now that’s one “poopy” birthday present!

It’s also a special day because January 6 is the anniversary of Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s conversion to Jesus Christ. Spurgeon, as a young man still in his late teens, was heading off to church when a snow storm drove him into a little “wayside” church. Few members were present, due to the weather. The pastor was ill and unable to preach, so one of the deacons took the pulpit, opened his Scriptures and read from Isaiah 45. After a few words, none of which Spurgeon seems to recall, the deacon landed on verse 22 – “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (KJV). It was at that moment that Spurgeon looked – he looked unto Jesus to save him, to grant him the gift of faith and convert him.

Six years later, as the pastor of New Park Street church, CHS preached about his conversion, using Isaiah 45.22 as his text. He has at least three extant sermons on this passage. Check them out here and here. However, the one I refer to is here. I’d encourage you to read it. It’s very moving, and if the Spirit gets ahold of you while you read, it will be more than that.

So, make today a special day for yourself as well. Even if you cannot pinpoint an exact time or place, can you recall your conversion when the Lord Jesus Christ became real to you and you trusted him to be your Savior? If you can, are there memories of that great event still as precious as they should be? Give praise to God for this special day.


Purpose Driven Dinner Cruise

Last October, my congregation expressed their appreciation of me (and my family) in a multitude of ways. One of those was a river boat cruise in La Crosse, WI. It was a bit late in the fall to go and see any spectacular colors, so we waited ’til spring. This past Saturday evening, I took my loving (and lovely) bride of 25+ years for our dinner cruise on the La Crosse Queen. It was a delightful evening. After 2 1/2 hours of enjoyment, conversation with people we’d never met and most likely will never meet again, a satisfying dinner and a cruise up and down the Mississippi River, we disembarked to find this evening’s cruise had come with a high price tag.

You see, they take your picture as your boarding the La Crosse Queen – that’s not the problem. Ann & I dressed casual – that’s not the problem. The problem was when we began showing the picture at church yesterday, during our Fellowship Meal for Fathers. We wanted them to see how much we enjoyed their gift to us last fall, but many began to get quite upset. Some were down right angry; so much so, that we’re fearful they may soon have a "secret" congregational meeting to determine my worthiness to stay on as their pastor. Oh the shame of it all. I was so embarrassed; if only I’d known what my choice of clothing would do to me. Here’s the picture the kind folks and unwitting accomplices of my downfall took last Saturday:

I guess my congregation determined that I looked so much like Rick Warren that I would soon begin preaching like Rick Warren, sounding like Rick Warren, leading our church like Rick Warren, that they would have to "cut off the infected limb to save the body." I plan on massive amounts of contrition, open confession of sin and a total repentance, even to the point of having a clothes burning next Sunday morning.

My only alternative, if I don’t mind getting kicked out of my church, would be to begin an evangelical version of "The Next Best Thing" where preachers/pastors appear on TBN TV and see how close they can appear like all of our greatest, contemporary Christian heroes: Rick Warren (I personally think I’d be the shoe-in right now), Joel Osteen, Rick Bell, and a host from TBN itself. Imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery and flattery will get you everywhere (even kicked out of your own church).

(By the way, I hope anyone from Cornerstone EFC who reads this realize that I’m speaking strictly tongue-in-cheek!)

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Look closely at the picture below. What do you see?
modestly dressed
Most people will see “stodgy, old-fashioned, way-too-hot-for-summers-in-Minnesota” clothing.

Now I know I’m going to step in it big-time with this, but that’s okay. Ann & Elizabeth went shopping the other evening and came home with several items for Elizabeth’s summer wardrobe. I was pleased with their purchases. However there was one pair of shorts that I questioned at first, but later approved.

Why the initial disapproval? I thought they might prove to be too short, thus immodest, thus inappropriate. All right. I’m ready, Let it fly.

modestly dressed“But Pastor Kevin, don’t you think setting legalistic requirements on clothing will open up a charge of hypocrisy or legalism?” Perhaps, but I’m willing to deal with that if my daughter(s) or wife are dressed modestly. Sadly most people associate modesty with the picture above. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Doug, over at Coffeeswirls, brought up this topic this week. I’d written on this very topic for our church newsletter earlier this summer, so I thought I’d include a few thoughts from those two articles for your consideration.
Let me “tackle” simple dress for now (if you want to talk weddings, we can do that later.  Many Christian young women (25 & under) fail to take into consideration a rule of faith when choosing clothing: don’t cause a brother to stumble into sin. It’s not that they deliberately set out to make a man sin with his eyes. Most just don’t think… because they’re not guys. God made men with very sensitive visual awareness of his surroundings, including the way women dress. And many women fail to realize this when they put on clothing that’s too revealing, too tight, too suggestive, too tempting.modesty

So ladies, young women and others: please glorify God by helping the men not to stumble and sin. Stand in the mirror and take a good look at what you’re wearing. Ask another, older, mature Christian woman for advice. Ask a man (husband or father) for input. But above all things, do not let your outer appearance be an occasion for sin to others in the church.

Scripture helps us here, as it should at all times: “…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…” (1 Timothy 2.9, ESV). When it comes to our worship services, you don’t have to look dowdy, but you shouldn’t dress in a way that draws attention away from God and toward yourself in any manner.

When you dress to go out on any other given day, remember: what you wear on the outer body says everything about what is in your heart.

I’ll add the second part later today or tomorrow.

Grace Upon Grace

My bride of 24 years!

Today is Ann’s birthday. Discretion and the better part of self-preservation causes me to forget how old she is today.

In most name books, her name means “grace.” It’s 100% spot-on right. I don’t deserve her.

She’s terribly loving of me and all my quirks. She shows incredible forebearance of my short-comings. Her patience seems to know no end. The care she provides for me and our family is almost tireless. Gentle, kind and good; that’s my wife.

Ann and I have known each other for 30 years now. I don’t know if it was “love at first sight,” but it’s hung in there for that long: over five years of dating/engagement and nearly 25 years of marriage.

I do not deserve her.

And yet, God, who is immensely more gracious than even my wife, has given her to me. To me! It is truly remarkable.

May we be blessed with another 25 years (at least!).

Happy birthday, dear one.