Thursday, January 19, 2006

Resolved: 2006

Carolyn Mahaney: True Beauty

Why do we chase after physical beauty?
-We lust for success, love, approval, and acceptance.

It is from the deep depths of sin in our hearts. Wickedness in our heart.

It does not produce happiness. Physical beauty does not = happiness. Many of even the most beautiful women in the world with perfect skin tone, body shapes, and Covergirl faces are not happy.

We must ask ourselves: Has my heart been captivated by the world’s expectation of beauty? Or, has my heart been captivated by God’s expectation of beauty?

Well, what is God’s expectation of beauty?

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

There is a beauty we are called to in Scripture.

1 Peter 3:4 “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”

A gentle and quiet spirit.”

It’s what’s on the inside that matters.

It’s a beauty only God can see. This is extremely precious to God. This is a spirit which fears God and serves others.

Self-disciplined for the glory of God.

Do we have a preoccupation with self or God? Are we seeking our own glory or God’s glory?

Colossians 3:1 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Set your mind on Jesus.

Make the Lord the object of our affections and attentions!

Goals:

1. Acknowledge God’s providence.
Be grateful for how we’ve been created. A loving God determined long ago how we would be designed.

2. Recognize that my body is not my own.
It belongs to God. It is His holy temple.

3. Make it my ambition to serve others.


John Piper tells this exemplary story.

Evelyn Harris Brand, the mother of Paul Brand, the world-renowned hand surgeon and leprosy specialist, grew up in a well-to-do English family. She had studied at the London Conservatory of Art and dressed in the finest silks. But she went with her husband to minister as missionaries in the Kolli Malai range of India. After about ten years her husband died at age 44 and she came home “a broken woman, beaten down by pain and grief.” But after a year's recuperation, and against all advice, she returned to India. Her soul was restored and she poured her life into the hill people, “nursing the sick, teaching farming, lecturing about guinea worms, rearing orphans, clearing jungle land, pulling teeth, establishing schools, preaching the gospel.” She lived in a portable hut, eight feet square, that could be taken down, moved and erected again.

At age 67 she fell and broke her hip. Her son, Paul, had just come to India as a surgeon. He encouraged her to retire. She had already suffered a broken arm, several cracked vertebrae and recurrent malaria. Paul mounted as many arguments as he could think of to persuade her that sixty-seven years was a good investment in ministry, and now it was time to retire. Her response? “Paul, you know these mountains. If I leave, who will help the village people? Who will treat their wounds and pull their teeth and teach them about Jesus? When someone comes to take my place, then and only then will I retire. In any case, why preserve this old body if it's not going to be used where God needs me?” That was her final answer. So she worked on.

At the age of 95 she died. Following her instructions, villagers buried her in a simple cotton sheet so that her body would return to the soil and nourish new life. “Her spirit, too, lives on, in a church, a clinic, several schools, and in the faces of thousandsof villagers across five mountain ranges of South India.” Her son commented that “with wrinkles as deep and extensive as any I have ever seen on a human face…she was a beautiful woman.” But it was not the beauty of the silk and heirlooms of London high society. For the last twenty years of her life she refused to have a mirror in her house! She was consumed with ministry, not mirrors. A coworker once remarked that Granny Brand was more alive than any person he had ever met. “By giving away life, she found it.” This is what happens, paradoxically, when ministry is more important than life. (Future Grace, John Piper, p 288)

40 comments:

Truth and Zeal said...

So that's what Carolyn Mahaney preached on... (As you were aware, we men were restricted from the conference room during that session.)

I'm glad they offered a women's session this year. Our sisters-in-Christ are always dear to us.

Just eight more reviews to go. :) God bless.

Dan

Reformed Centurion said...

Hey, I took that picture. Shouldn't you have to ask my permission or something before you can show it?

Rand said...

This may be a little off topic, but I really want to make this personal observation known:

Godly women are naturally beautiful.

Oh! I'm not saying that all Christian women are Cover Girls. What I am saying is that a woman's godliness has the effect of making her appealing and lovely.

When preaching the Gospel in the marketplace on Friday nights, I see hundreds of women going to bars and pubs, wearing tons of makeup and very little clothes. I will admit that a number of them I have found "sexy", but not beautiful. There is a difference.

I remember one Friday night in particular. It was a cold winter night, and I was preaching by myself when a young woman stopped by and thanked me for preaching the Gospel publickly. She offered me a cup of coffee to warm myself. Just looking at her, I knew she was a sister in the Lord. She was kind, compassionate, and yes, beautiful. No nose rings, no makeup, no short skirt... just natural beauty.

I am 100% convinced: what goes on in the spirit, often shows up on the flesh.

My 0.02$,

Reformed Centurion said...

Right on.

Daniel Mann said...

Right arm

Where can I find a lady like that?

Amen Rand. My friend wayne wants to know, where abouts in Canada, are you from?. He says in much of Canada you can be arrested for what you are doing, preaching the gospel that is.

God grant the Church many ladies like this for His glory. But just one for me is enough.

Daniel Mann said...

One more thing I might add,
for some humor, in regards to make-up.

As J. Vernon McGee use to say, over the old debate on gals wearing make-up.

"If the barn needs painting- than paint it."

Rand said...

Hi Daniel,

We have had many a run in with the municipal authorities in my city, which is the nation's capital (no, not Toronto!).

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the authorities to bar us from open-air evangelism since it would be a violation of our freedom of religion, speech and association. That being said, they do use alot (and I mean A LOT) of intimidation.

Twice I was warned by a police officer, thrice I was warned by by-law officers, and once we made it all the way before the municipal courts (only to have our case be dismissed in 5 seconds flat). If one is to preach the Gospel in Canada, he better be determined and not waiver, and by God's grace, that's exactly what I'm going to be.

I hope and pray that the Lord will send forth others, into all the world, to help this "chicken-pretending-to-be-a-lion" fulfill His Great Commission.

Sorry for the tangeant Julianne,

Rand

Truth and Zeal said...

Daniel,

I have a saying that goes like this, "Fear no man, but God" (Joshua 1:9, many verses in the Psalms, Isaiah 41:10). Your deep convictions for Christ will cause you to preach the Gospel where it is needed. In many other parts of the world, imprisonment is common for those that preach the Gospel.


Back to the topic:

What I am saying is that a woman's godliness has the effect of making her appealing and lovely.

Yes, I agree with Rand, godliness in a woman will attract a godly man.

Dan (T&Z)

Jason said...

I was going to say exactly what Rand said. I think beauty is evident in godly women. I am able to see beauty in each of the Christian women I am friends with. The problem is not beauty itself, but when that beauty becomes a source of pride, lust, obsession, ect. there is a such thing as natural beauty that is perfectly acceptable in the right contexts.

I don't think we need to be despisers of the body, but not obsess over it at the same time

torn_aclu said...

I agree with Mrs. Mahaney's definition of beauty, but still had a few question:

Song of Solomon, why does he seem to view beauty only in terms of the physicality of it then? Or does he?

Julianne said...

Jeremy,

Could S of S be symbolic of the church and Christ? The Geneva Bible is full of notes which explain the situation. Check out this: http://www.reformed.org/documents/geneva/song.html

Truth and Zeal said...

Jeremy (torn_aclu),

There's nothing wrong with admiring beauty that God has designed and created. We'd be deceiving ourselves if we said beauty didn't matter.

Like Jason was saying, "There is a such thing as natural beauty that is perfectly acceptable in the right contexts. I don't think we need to be despisers of the body, but not obsess over it at the same time."

Julianne: Thanks for the link. I'm now motivated to read more of S of S. :)

Dan (T&Z)

Puritan Belief said...

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."

Well pointed out I think this verse is where the foundation for beauty rests. No I am not talking about foundation as in make up Daniel Mann ("If the barn needs painting- than paint it.")

After all Christ is the bridegroom and we are His Bride so to appear before him without spot or wrinkle and perfectly white we need to seek the things that are above.

Daniel Mann said...

Most reform people today reject Songs of Songs being taken as strick symbolism of Christ and the Church. However the Westminster Standards uses Songs of Songs predominatly this way. But whenever we first read Songs of Songs or any other biblical book, we must first read it as a historical document and find out how it was it meant to taken by the authors to the original readers. Songs of Songs is first a love story. There is no mentioned of God except possibly in 8:6. The New tesament never quotes Song of Songs directly. John MacArthur
saids that "The Song of Songs has suffered strained intpretations over the centuries by those who use the " allegorical" method of interpretation, claiming that this Song has no actual historic basis, but rather that it depicts God's love for Israel and/or Christ's love for the church." MacArthur goes on " A more satisfying way to approach Solomon's Song is to take it at face value and interpret it in the normal historical sense." "The "typological" variation admits the hisorical reality, but concludes that it ulimately pictures Christ's bridegroom love for His bride the church."

The reformers also read the church into almost everything. I think they perhaps were over reacting to the Catholic Church.

I like Spurgeon's Quote-" Better to find Christ where He is not, than not to find Him at all"

Spurgeon was addressing the issue of people reading into the text to find Christ at some of the most bizarre places.

Carson Allen said...

Spurgeon was addressing the issue of people reading into the text to find Christ at some of the most bizarre places.

I believe reading your own meaning into the text is called esegesis. Try to google that one. Dan your quote by MacArthur illustrates the problems I see with a literal dispensational hermeneutic. So the Songs of Songs has suffered strained interpretations over the centuries using the "allegorical interpretation".Some would say It depicts God's love for Israel and/or Christ's love for the Church.

So my question is, If MacArthur can see a problem with this type of exegesis of S of S; why do dispensationlist's have a cow when you use an allegorical interpretation with the book of Revelation? Must have been all of the years he studied under Louis Talbot.

Jason said...

Thank you Juli for posting this, I admire gals who make inner beauty rather than outward beauty their goal. Displaying a love for the Lord is truly beautiful.

Great missionary story, oh that we all could have the passion to serve others like Evelyn Brand.... thats giving your life in service for the Kingdom.

Joanna Martens said...

So what DO you think of makeup then? :-)

Julianne said...

Well, Esther spent HOW many months purfuming and preparing for the king???

:~)

Seriously, I think make-up should be used in a way which would bring most glory to God. If used too much, it can be distracting. Used wisely, it can be natural and beautiful.

This could be talked about on all levels. Should we wear deodorant (yes, all you should!)? Body spray? Purfume? Hairspray? Gel? Should we shave? Cut our hair? Paint our nails? Wear lotion? On and on...

I think you get my drift... (no pun intended)

:-)

torn_aclu said...

Songs of Songs, in my humblest opinion is about one thing and one thing only, real sex. Well not totally. No offense, but most folk today believe Song if Songs isn't really about Christ's love for the church anymore. I don't want to get personal here, but I will. Beyond the cliches, what do you tell a girl, who by the world's standards isn't a knockout. If Song of Solomon is talking about the love between a husband and one of his thousands of wives, he seems to focus a great deal on her physical beauty as the defining characteristic concerning his love for her. I know he doesn't say, "Well you have big breasts and that's why I love you;" he merely mentions that she has them and maybe that, in and ove itself is what helped draw Solomon toward hsi wife. Am I ramblimg?

torn_aclu said...

I sport lotion. It gets dry here in Chicago. I like a little perfume. Just don't overdo it. Hairspray and gel? It wouldn't hurt, but it sure aint necessary. Do you have to shave? Not so much in the winter. But honestly, do you wnat to go the the beach with a 5 o'clock shadow from your waist down? There's a really good Pedro The Lion song called "When They Really Get OT Know You They Will Run" that talks about this. It goes like this:

"what makes you think
that it won't grow back
in a day or two
husbands in winter
they know the truth
but what can they do

i don't like girls the way they are
so shave their legs
and make them look like movie stars
then we can pretend it's natural

put on whatever makes you attractive
if it's not you then do it for the sake of fashion
your friends like a certain you
that's who you've got to be

junior high legs
blonde hair gone brown
from removing it
waxing since thirteen
wisdom from a beauty queen
her tiara diggin deep in her head

i'm starting to think that i'm kind of shy
or at least i'd like to be

winter legs give me heart attacks
so take it off with lasers
so it never comes back
then we can pretend it's natural"

Doug E. said...

Sounds like a great conference.

Doug

mxu said...

I feel weird reading this. I don't even know if it would be appropriate. What do you guys think?

Guys were barred from the room... what's the difference between that and reading a blog summary of that?

Truth and Zeal said...

FYI, the Resolved 2006 photo album is available here.

Dan (T&Z)

Gordon Cloud said...

Good post, Julianne. While I think there are some beautiful allegorical truths in the S of S, I believe it was also a book of actual love poetry. This makes for a wonderful marital relationship manual.

Julianne said...

MXU,

The reason for guys being banned from the room was not because of the content of the session. It was the fact that Carolyn Mahaney is a woman. She was teaching from the Word to other females. It would have been unbiblical of her to teach to men. That is why you guys were banned. Many of the principles we discussed are relatable to both men and women.

One question:
Should you read anything written by a woman? Even a theology book? Is the female author clearly in submission to the men in her life? (father, husband, church leaders???)

Rand said...

"Should you read anything written by a woman? Even a theology book?"

For the record, I wouldn't read a theology book written by a woman. To do so would kind of make it seem like the "church building" or the "pulpit" is the most important factor in the ban of woman preachers. That position kind of seems ridiculous to me.

Teaching ministries is given over to men in Scripture... we need to submit ourselves completely to what God wants... not take shortcuts.

(oh! before anyone brings up Priscilla, read Acts 18:26 CAREFULLY)

My fundamental 0.02$,

Rand said...

Oh! and a precision...

I don't think Julianne is in error by relating an account of what she learned at this conference. She isn't preaching a sermon, she's telling us about her weekend, and the things she learned.

It isn't a "sermon", it's a conversation.

Again, my 0.02$,

Julianne said...

Rand,

What would you consider to be a "theology book?" Would any christian non-fiction be "theology?"

Truth and Zeal said...

I think the point Julianne is making (men being restricted from the women's session at the Resolved Conference) was one of the reasons, but it was also to apply Titus 2:4-5 [having women teach other women].

It also gave the men opportunity to use that free time for lunch and fellowship with other brothers, edify and encouraging one another to the glory of God.
****

"Should you read anything written by a woman? Even a theology book?"

I think you must define "theology book" before we can answer that.

What I will say is that there is much we can learn from the other gender. Perhaps not theology, but theology in action. Pastors would exhort husbands to always be "learners" of their wives, that is to study her interests, desires, spiritual needs, etc., so they could put 1 Peter 3:7 in practice.

Here's an interesting excerpt from one of my favorite Biblical counselors:

"God is no respecter of person when he weaves such wisdom into the fabric of our souls. Some male seminarians who do well in more technical academic courses do relatively poorly in couseling classes. Their grasp of truth is sytematic and articulate but overly theoretical and depersonalized... Women often personalize truth to themselves and others with cogency, candor, and subtlety... God seems to level the playing field when imparting wisdom for the tasks of mutual ministry" (David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, p. 135).

Sorry Julianne, if I went off-topic, but hopefully it was edifying to you and others.

Dan (T&Z)

Rand said...

What would you consider to be a "theology book?" Would any christian non-fiction be "theology?"

Yes, probably. Any book that could be classified as Bible teaching, I would avoid. One thing is for sure, I would always lean on the most conservative, and highest standard in this area. In other words, if it COULD be considered as a "theology book", I would avoid it.

Making any sense?

Julianne said...

Rand,

You are making sense. However, I think I disagree with you. What is different about you picking up any females' books and reading my blog? When you say you agree with me when I write about God's wonderful truths of election or God's sovereignty, are you reading what I write? What makes what I write here different than if I compiled a book (which I've thought seriously about)?

I don't question your convictions, but your consistancy.

NOTE: please don't stop reading my blog. I really appreciate when you challenge me. :)

Truth and Zeal said...

Hmm... she [Julianne] does seem to have a point. I'm impressed. :)

FYI, there are many conservative godly men I know who read books from godly women (e.g. Martha Peace, Elizabeth Elliot, Nancy Leigh DeMoss). Those books are mainly for the female audience, but it's always insightful to read books from the other perspective.

Gordon Cloud said...

It is not usurping authority for a woman to state her opinion in books any more than it is verbally. No one is forcing anyone to pick up that book and read it. If they do, it is of their own volition and therefore they are granting that author the right to speak to them. "Usurping authority" implies taking an unlawful right. Keep writing Julianne, I may not always agree with you, but you are definitely filling a needed role in God's Kingdom.

Adam Cummings said...

Hey guys, maybe MacArthur did say that, but I would ask you in this case to list your sources. Just yesterday at our Truth and Life Conference (the theme of which was predominantly manhood, womanhood, and marriage according to Scripture), MacArthur went through a few chapters of Song of Solomon. He NEVER mentioned it being an allegory but spoke of it as a historical and purposeful love story. He had us cracking up, even saying at one point that the writer was implying that he wanted sex (trust, in context, it was proper and funny). So, don't be quick to group MacArthur with those who allegorize. From how he preached yesterday, it seems his position--no matter what it was in the past--is currently that S of S is indeed intended as a love story. If you want a copy of his sermon, you can ask for it from our school.

Julianne, you said:

"Make the Lord the object of our affections and attentions!"

I've been desperately trying to do this. God opened some doors last semester and quickly shut them (with a certain someone). And though people laugh, the things I saw in her were the real thing (modesty, godliness, intelligence, etc.). Thus, God has been showing me, largely through this futile ordeal, to let go of any more earthly infatuations and, for now, focus my attention solely on Christ. It'll be tough, but that's my desire for this semester. If it happens with this girl later, it will. But, thank goodness He has opened my eyes to this fault of mine. Thanks for those words!

(sorry for getting off topic, well, a lot) : D

Rand said...

Hi Julianne,

I suppose all this has a lot to do with just how they perceive blogs and books, and even how each are written. I have read and commented on several of your past posts because, to be honest, I really see it as an open discussions, rather than you teaching me. I guess the comment box is what makes the distinction for me; it might not be right, I'll have to think about that.

Books are different in that it is ONE person setting forth ideas to a mostly unknown public. It cannot be seen as a discussion, it's definitely "teaching".

Then again, as far as books are concerned, a distinction can be made also. For example I read and appreciated "Shadow of the Almighty" by Elizabeth Elliott, since the book is mostly an account of her husband's experiences. I wouldn't call it a "theology book", even if some theology was taught in it.

Where I draw the line is "Eschatology by Miss so-and-so", or "Calvinism Defended by Madam X." This would clearly be "theology".

The lines aren't always easy to be drawn, but I try to be as careful as I can. Thanks for the food for thought...

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Your opening line goes, "Why do we chase after physical beauty?"

I think one of the most fascinating aspects of beauty is a reverse of the above. That is to say, why is it that beauty, when we least expect it and whether we like it or not, compels *us.* It is almost as if beauty (or perhaps Beauty) is chasing after us.

I have always found the compelling nature of beauty to be an utterly fascinating topic for reflection. And, in the particular instance of woman as an instantiation of beauty (as Mozart's music is too or Notre Dame cathedral or a sunset), it is particularly fascinating because, though this is not true for cathedrals, compositions, or sunsets, male and female are divine image-bearers. "Male and female," He created them...in His own image.

And it's simply fascinating to think that beauty, yes physical beauty, is a way in which a "female" images God. Of course, God being pure spirit and incoporeal entails us getting past "this crude matter," as Yoda would say, when thinking of a woman's beauty being part and parcel to the way in which she is a divine image-bearer. It is more the fact of her beauty and the compelling nature of it that hearkens toward the Divine. God, being supremely beautiful (as He is supremely good, supremely true, etc.), is compelling in a similar way, though a higher one, sense his beauty transcends the physical.

I think if we consider these facets of beauty, we do well, and we don't so easily reduce ourselves to claiming that women ought not to care about their own beauty. The "true beauty is on the inside" type comment, as has been crudely said before, is what women say who are insecure about their own beauty -- as in, the supermodels and actresses never say that sort of thing, blah, blah, blah.

Now, of course, I didn't take our present author (Julianne) to be so reductive in her comments. That would be ungracious and to extract them from her context. I understand the general thrust of her reflections on beauty. I just worry that we can get a bit unbalanced in these discussions and tip the scales away from the truth, one part of which, is that women just are divine image-bearers in a unique way *through* their beauty.

The medieval theologians knew the intimate connection between the good, the true, and the beautiful. They knew they had to be allies and can never be so easily severed from one another. If they were, the others would suffer (e.g., take away a desire for beauty, your grasp on the good and the true will suffer for it). May we today too realize this intimate connection between the great triad of the true, the good, and the beautiful, yet all the while taking Julianne's sensitive comments to heart. To wit, beauty is not the only way woman is and is called to be a divine image-bearer.

Frank Martens said...

I really don't have a problem reading a theological book from a woman. But to be honest, I haven't even read a theological book from a woman and I don't even know of any good ones out there. So... yea.

Anyway, glad it was an awesome trip :)

Adam Cummings said...

lol... there's a good point. I would have trouble reading a book like that in light of Scripture, despite the fact that some women assuredly know more about Theology than I do. It's the principle here, not pride. Good point, though; I cannot for the life of me think of any deep, theologically sound book written by a woman (J Meyers being NO exception).

Julianne said...

Rand,
You wrote: "For example I read and appreciated "Shadow of the Almighty" by Elizabeth Elliott, since the book is mostly an account of her husband's experiences. I wouldn't call it a "theology book", even if some theology was taught in it."

I guess that is what I was getting at. I appreciate your sincerity and pray that You will do as God leads you.

"I really see it as an open discussions, rather than you teaching me. I guess the comment box is what makes the distinction for me."

This makes sense. I now see the difference between me setting out and writing a "theology" book and me just posting thoughts here on an open forum.

Rand said...

I think we are seeing eye to eye on this matter.

A woman DOES need to be careful not to violate God's Word while trying to glorify God, if you know what I mean.

This was good food for thought though... I'm going to take more time and pray about this...

Thanks Julianne,