Tag Archives: God

Resurection Day

Bunny Eggs

Today is the most holy day in Christendom. Today is the day we celebrate the coming of a large cotton-tailed bunny bearing colored eggs and lots of candy.

It’s not? Oh, my bad! Please excuse me if I misunderstood.

There are some who don’t celebrate any holidays. There are others who celebrate every holiday with festivities galore, including eggs that are used to represent new life and bunnies that represent…I don’t know what.

Oh! I do know! Bunnies have always been a symbol of fertility (among pagans). They are linked to eggs because pagans must like omelettes.

But still, it’s never really made sense. Why bunnies and eggs together? Do bunnies lay eggs? Do bunnies have a natural affinity for eggs? Chickens?

Here’s a thought. What would happen if children were told the following?

  • The Obama administration has mandated, along with other mandates, that all animals must unionize. The result will guarantee that chickens will no longer be forced out of delivery jobs by rabbits who have nothing to do with eggs.
  • Instead of Peter Cottontail, large, 200 lb. chickens will be delivering their own eggs. Of course, chickens have not mastered the ancient art of decorating eggs, so they will have to rely on natural decoration. Natural decorating will prove economically beneficial because brown coloring is free.
  • Because discrimination will not be allowed under the new Obama administration mandates, “cute and fluffy” will bill replaced by “any rabbit capable.” Therefore, along with 200 lb. chickens, there will be large, ugly rabbits with 4-incisors leaping carelessly through living rooms come Easter morning. But instead of colorful eggs, they will be delivering tiny, naked bunny babies – by the millions.

He is Risen!

Just forget all of the above nonsese! Easter, Resurrection Day, is about only one thing: the tomb is empty and Jesus is ALIVE!

The fact that we can find so many other things to distract us on this day is totally amazing. Why isn’t the story of the resurrection enough? Is the proof of Christianity and the hope of the ages so dull of a story that we have to suppliment it with candy? And rabbits?

OH! Praise God that we have hope! Death is defeated! He lives!

And if Christ be NOT risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not…And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now IS Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept…O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:14-15, 17-20, 55-57 [emphasis mine]

 

(Originally Posted 4/08/12)

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Filed under Easter, God, Preaching, Theology, worship

Movies We Should Make!

Noah

noah-280314I know, we’ve heard about all we want to hear about Noah, the unbelievably un-biblical movie meant to be a slap in the face to Bible-believers everywhere. That’s why I am not going to give you any commentary; you’ve probably read it all by now.

One thing is for sure (and this movie proves it in spades), whenever you go to a movie you’re likely to be disappointed if you think the screen adaptation is going to be as good as the book. Seriously, how often are movies as good as the books they are loosely based on? About the only ones I can think of are the first Narnia movie (Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe) and the version of A Christmas Carol that had George C. Scott in it. That’s about it.

Noah’s story, as found in the Bible, is perfectly exciting. It is full of all the things that make a great movie a great movie: drama, action, animals, exotic locations, suspense, larger-than-life sets, and colorful characters. It even has its share of death, destruction, pathos, and the miraculous. So why change all of that? Why trash the written account in order to create a fictitious, over-the-top, insulting flop?

Knoahk-offs

Maybe it’s time we go ahead and make more movies using the Noah template? Instead of calling these new movies knock-offs, we could call them knoahk-offs! I mean, why not take the stories atheists and humanists know and love and turn them into evangelical sermons?

Let me see if I can come up with a few ideas off the top of my head…

  • The God Delusion (by Richard Dawkins). In this movie, a must-see by Dawkins’ fans, Yahweh actually sits down with Little Richard (the singer) to compose a musical called “The Delusion of Unbelief.” In this unique creation (pun intended), God describes Himself to the world as a loving, sacrificial Sovereign that wants to open the eyes of unbelieving vegans.
  • God Is Not Great (by Christopher Hitchens). This movie version of a classic by the late, great Hitchens will have audiences rolling in the aisles. God Is Not Great is a Christian comedy featuring the humorous, yet humble side of the Creator. Movie attenders will laugh along with God as He mocks those who deny His existence and get a kick at how He plays practical jokes on unsuspecting, self-deluded college professors at UC Berkeley.
  • Harry Potter (by J.K. Rowling). Atheists and lukewarm Christians everywhere love the Harry Potter series of books and movies, but a remake was inevitable. Yes, a truly accurate depiction of the books (with some creative licence, of course) will be brought to the screen. Instead of witchcraft, Harry will be filled with the Holy Spirit, lead Hermione (who played in Noah) to the Lord, get married, attend Moody Bible Institute, then start Hogwarts Baptist Church in Herefordshire, UK.

So, what do you think? I don’t think anybody will be offended, do you? Freethinkers should applaud trashing the writings of their favorite authors, don’t you think? I mean, at least that’s what people are saying we Christians should do with Noah.

If Darren Aronofsky can create a Noah “for the 21st century,” there’s a lot more stories needing an update. Can you think of a few?

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Humor, Movie review

Thursday Thoughts (Frogs and Fears)

What in the world does a preacher think about on Thursdays? Let’s find out!

Does water fall sideways?

My wife and I were taken to dinner the other day by a very nice couple who appreciate fine dining – they took us to Cracker Barrel. While in the gift shop, I noticed two frogs continually spitting into a small pond.

photo (24)First, what is so attractive about a fountain with spitting frogs? I mean, do frogs spit? And if they do, wouldn’t that much be a sign of impending kidney failure and death? What would make an amphibian with projectile saliva be your first choice of lawn decoration?

Secondly, notice the water. The little stream from froggy on the right is obviously falling at an angle due to the position in which he/she is sitting. What might not be as noticeable is that the one on the left, as I was standing there watching, was really, literally falling to the left, i.e. NOT straight down! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

So, another couple walks up behind me and I say to the husband, “Does the water coming out of the frog’s mouth on the left look like it’s falling straight down?” “Huh, no it doesn’t,” he said.

Then the man’s wife walked up and asked what he was looking at. He asked, “Doesn’t that water look like it’s falling to the left? How’s that possible?” No joke, the wife replied, “Well, it would if the hose was curved.”

I looked at the guy and asked, “Can I quote her on that?

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Thinking about the frogs and the crazy water, I was reminded that our eyes can play tricks on us. In reality, based on what we see, our understanding of the world can be very misleading.

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.” – Isaiah 50:10 NLT

That is why, even in the darkest nights of life, I trust God: He knows what’s really going on.

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What to Wear to Church? (2014)

“What to Wear to Church?” has consistently been the number one search entry leading people to this site. What does that tell you?

If you’ve never read my thoughts on this before, this is the post all the search engines bring up. Originally written in 2010, it has been updated for today.

Clothing

A while back I was asked to be the guest speaker at a larger, more contemporary church. Out of respect for each other, the pastor of that church and I jokingly discussed what I should wear. You see, he never wears a suit, while I almost always do. His congregation has become more “contemporary,” while my congregation remains more “traditional.” So, to make me comfortable, the pastor told me whatever I wanted to wear was fine. Therefore, I will compromise – I will probably wear a sport coat, khakis, and flip flops…not really.

The way I dress to go to church may not be the way you dress. My style may not suit your tastes, nor yours mine. But the fact of the matter is that unless you’re totally too liberal, or don’t go at all, you wear some kind of clothing to church, correct? Well, have you ever wondered if what you wear to church is appropriate?

Below are some of my thoughts on the subject.

It’s Not About You

If you are planning to attend a worship service where God is supposed to be the center of attention, don’t dress like a clown! Or, in other words, don’t dress like you’re the star – going to church shouldn’t be a fashion show.

Some cultures believe people should come to church in clothing that could damage someone’s retina. Gettin’ “fancied up” is what’s expected. But it’s this type of clothing, in most cases, that draws attention to the congregant, not Christ. My advice is to stay away from neon suits and flashing bow ties. Church clothing should be a covering, not a calling card.

Show Some Respect

Some people think it is totally appropriate to wear enough jewelry and feathers to keep pawn shops in business and all geese naked. Others think it is completely acceptable to look like a drunk that slept in an alley all night (no offense to the drunk). Neither shows a sense of respect. The first steals God’s glory, while the second implies God’s house is no different than anywhere else.

Here’s a couple suggestions. Try going to a White House dinner looking like a hobo or a hippie from the 60′s. Receive an invitation to tea from Queen Elizabeth and show up looking like you just got out of bed and never took a shower. Unless you’re a bona fide rock star, or simply Bono, security personnel may escort you to a private room to “get acquainted.” Therefore, if dignitaries of earthly kingdoms demand respect, why shouldn’t we offer it to our Heavenly King? Is God not greater than Obama? (clear throat)

Beware of Legalistic Standards

However, whatever you wear, don’t be too quick to judge another’s spiritual condition by what they wear. Only God knows the heart.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. – Rom 14:4 KJV

Sadly, I have been around many believers who consider one style of clothing a sign of spiritual maturity, while another style a sign of spiritual waywardness.  And you know what’s funny? It doesn’t matter which side of the spiritual tracks, there’s always somebody looking at another thinking, “They’re not right with God.”

Legalism cuts both ways, dear friend. For example, I have been to churches that ridiculed any woman who wears pants, or a man who never tucks in his shirt. On the other hand, I have been in congregations that blatantly condemned all dress and tie-wearers as right-wing, self-righteous, fundamentalist, nut jobs. In both cases someone judged another’s spirituality based on outward appearances, alone. In both cases one group’s set of standards were being used as a guide to what is spiritual behavior and what is not. That’s LEGALISM!

Believe it or not, the most modern, non-denominational, praise-and-worship-style congregation can be just as legalistic as the narrow-minded traditionalist. I may not prefer to preach in blue jeans on Sunday morning, but I’m not going to condemn someone who does. Likewise, when I don’t wear a suit and tie on Sunday night, I am not going to condemn someone who dresses like he’s going to a funeral.

Context, Context, Context

Ultimately, how you dress should be determined by the context of your community. Small, rural congregations might not feel comfortable dressing for church in the same way a metropolitan First Baptist may. Similarly, churches in depressed economies may adopt different dress codes than upwardly mobile societies. The key is to be respectful, honorable, and considerate of the holy moment at hand. Whatever fits that bill is good enough.

Just keep this principle in mind:  Grace accepts, Maturity develops, and Love constrains.

Don’t make appearances the only thing about which you’re concerned. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is far too important a message to be drowned in petty arguments about whether it is appropriate to dress up for church, or go dress-casual. Many people in the world have to worship Christ underground – literally. Dress codes are the least of their worries. Additionally, the drug addict who needs hope and help may not have any clothes left that he hasn’t already sold to get high. The single mother of five that walks into your church may have barely enough energy to survive, much less do her hair.

Do all things to the glory of the Lord, but keep things in perspective, OK?

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism [or be legalistic]. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? – Jam 2:1-5 NIV

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Culture Wars, Do not judge, legalism, wisdom, worship

I’ve Got a Mighty, Mighty Friend

Tough Times

A few minutes ago I was reading a post from a friend. He expressed several needs, yet praised the Lord for being in control (Romans 8:28). Aren’t you glad we serve a Mighty God?

All of us are living in tough and troubling times. For some of you, the road you’re on has far more bumps and potholes than the roads of others. Yet, all of us will agree, wherever we are, that the world is not getting any better. Times are tough, and are only going to get tougher.

But…

But, I have a Mighty Friend who is not affected by the whims of men or the winds of time. As a matter of fact, my Friend is the One who created man and started time.

Several years ago (2007) I wrote a song for my little girls to sing. Not long ago, while preparing for a banquet in our church gym, I listened to a recording of the song …and shouted…literally, I kicked up my heels, pumped my fists, waved my hands, and shouted “Praise GOD!

Maybe you need some encouragement? Just read the lyrics I have included below, and if God is your friend, don’t worry (Matthew 6:30-34).

Mighty Friend

Well I may not be as tall as a building or strong as a big ol train
I may not be as smart as a scientist doing things I can’t explain
But I know the One who made the tallest mountain and can whip up a hurricane
And the very One who invented gravity says He even knows my name.
 
Well I may not know what’s comin’ in the mornin’, or what the day may bring
Good or bad, I’m not gonna worry, ‘cause Jesus knows everything.
So I’ll do the best with what God has given me as long as there is time
‘Cause the One that got the clocks a-tick’n told me it’ll all be fine.
 
When the devil acts like a bully, putting on a scary show
Before you run away and hide in a corner there’s something you need to know
The One who spoke the world into existence is standing by your side
And if you look close the devil’s knees are shakin’ cause he knows he’ll lose the fight
 
Chorus:
Cause I’ve got a Mighty, Mighty Friend who watches over me
And He’s the Mighty, Mighty Savior who died to set me free
Well I may not be the greatest at anything, but this one thing is so
The God that is the greatest at everything loves me, this I know.
 

© 2007, Anthony C. Baker (BMI)

Katie is going to hate me for doing this…

…but I am going to include the recording I was talking about. This was recorded back when she (Katie) was only 10 or 11 years-old. It’s not Nashville quality, but it’s precious. So, as so many people say before they sing in church, “Don’t listen to how we sing, just listen to the words.”

“Mighty Friend”


 

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Filed under Faith, God, music, Relationships and Family

The Hands of God

Good Monday, everyone!

bibleYesterday morning at Riverside I preached a sermon entitled “The Hands of God.” I would like to give the basic outline, along with an edited version of the recording sent to the radio. The recording was made before Sunday, but the message was essentially the same.

There are several things about the hands of God worth noting.

  1. They Created Man (Gen. 2:7). As much as we would like to think that we are self-made, there is a Hand that formed us from the dust of the earth. We are not like the rest of creation which was simply spoken into existence; we were fashioned by the loving, artistic hand of the Creator, and His fingerprints are all over us.
  2. They Contain the Believer (John 10:27-29). The believer should never worry about his salvation. He should never worry about being stolen away. Thank God that we are in His hand, and nothing, not even ourselves, can remove us from His omnipotent protection.
  3. They Chastise the Child (Prov. 3:12; 13:24; 22:15; 19:18; Deut. 8:5; Rev. 3:19). God is not a Father who encourages “time outs;” He knows how to apply loving discipline to our seats of instruction. If more parents would worry less about the world’s wisdom and suggestions and follow the wise instruction of Scripture, we might not have as many entitlement-claiming, over-grown bratty children running the streets demanding their own way.
  4. They Carry the Broken (Isa. 40:11). Praise the Lord for His mercy and love! As the gentle shepherd who must sometimes break the leg of the wandering lamb, God must discipline us. However, it is then that He carries us close to his bosom where we learn to love being in His presence.
  5. They Catch the Stumbler (Psa. 37:23-24). There are times when we stumble, but because He is holding our hand, we will not “utterly” fall.

As Jonathan Edwards preached in 1741, it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.” But as a child of God, there is no better place to be. David said, even after he had sinned, “Let me fall into the hand of the Lord…” (1 Chron. 21:13). He knew the truth that brought comfort, a comfort the world does not know, “The LORD will not cast off his people…” (Psa. 94:14).

Listen to the Radio Version below:


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Filed under God, Love of God, ministry, Preaching

Radio Sermon (Thou Art Good)

If hearing my Southern accent and pronouncification of words makes me sound illiterate or grates your nerves, then by all means skip the attached audio. On the other hand, if hearing my Southern accent reminds you of heavenly manna for the ear, click the link and be fed.

Seriously, I know what it’s like to listen to someones’s voice, someone whom you’ve read, only to be disappointed by hear. Reading my posts may have given you the idea that I sound like Charlton Heston, and if that’s the case, the you will certainly be disappointed. But if by reading my posts you have come to the conclusion I may sound like Pee Wee Herman, then you’ll be amazed – I actually sound more like Dave Ramsey (the financial guy).

Today, as I have done several times in the past, I am going to share with you the sermon that will air this Sunday on a local AM radio station. You get to hear it before everyone else does!

This recording was made in my study using a large diaphragm microphone and a digital Tascam 8-track recorder. I then edited it on my computer with Audacity, a free audio editing program. The process takes longer than recording on my iPhone, but the end product sounds better.

Also, on this recording I include a song from the Sonlife Quartet, a group I played bass with back in the late 90′s.

“Thou Art Good, and Thou Doest Good”


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Filed under God, Love of God, Preaching

Just a Thought

This might be a little out of the ordinary, friends, but I feel led to do something a little different for you today (I can do that).

Are you discouraged? Do you feel like the world is coming down around you? Do you feel like there’s no one you can talk to, no one who can understand?

Are you under attack? Are people out to get you? Do you have people around you that would rather you fail than succeed?

Do you need a place to hide? Do you feel like crawling up into a little ball and hiding in a corner, away from the noise and confusion, away from the messes you may or may not have created?

Believe it or not, I have felt every bit of that at one point or another. And, I regularly have people wishing they could have my head (and if I were in some countries it might have already happened).

But not too long ago, when I was under so much stress and burdened with worry and sorrow, God showed me two verses from Psalms, chapter 57…

“[1] Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. [2] I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” 

Whatever you are going through right now, know that you can cry to God, and He will hear. Just hold on until “these calamities” pass over, till the storm passes by. Be humble and trust in the One who can do all things.

Many times Satan whispered, “There is no need to try, for there’s no end of sorrow; there’s no hope by and by.” But I know thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise, where the storms never darken the skies.

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more, till the clouds roll forever from the sky, hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand! Keep me safe, till the storm passes by.

- Mosie Lister (“Till the Storm Passes By”)

If this has spoken to you, I’d love to hear about! Leave a comment below.

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Filed under Faith, Struggles and Trials

Perfection Not Required

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

Looking for a Pastor

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting (like we have in the Baptist denomination).  They walk in, introduce themselves, compare resumes, and one gets the job.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be hired? Answer (typically): The one that fits the picture of what every Christian fit for service should be – perfect.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Yet sadly, within the church, there are many men and women who have felt inferior and useless because of sinful and broken pasts.  They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed before, but want to be forgiven and start new.  They are not the ones that look down on others for mistakes they’ve made. 

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?”

“Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. - Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family with all their problems to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

What to Wear to Church?

“What to wear to church?” has consistently been the number one search entry leading people to The Recovering Legalist. What does that tell you?

If you’ve never read my thoughts on this before, this is the post all the search engines bring up. It was written back in 2010.

Clothing

Recently, I was asked to be the guest speaker at a larger, more contemporary church. Out of respect for each other, the pastor of that church and I jokingly discussed what I should wear. You see, he never wears a suit, while I almost always do. His congregation has become more “contemporary,” while my congregation remains more “traditional.” So, to make me comfortable, the pastor told me whatever I wanted to wear was fine. Therefore, I will compromise – I will probably wear a sport coat, khakis, and flip flops…not really.

The way I dress to go to church may not be the way you dress. My style may not suit your tastes, nor yours mine. But the fact of the matter is that unless you’re totally too liberal, or don’t go at all, you wear some kind of clothing to church, correct? Well, have you ever wondered if what you wear to church is appropriate?

Below are some of my thoughts on the subject.

It’s Not About You

If you are planning to attend a worship service where God is supposed to be the center of attention, don’t dress like a clown! Don’t dress like you are going to an L.A. premier of Lady Gaga’s new movie, It’s All About Me.

Some cultures believe people should come to church in clothing that could damage someone’s retina. Gettin’ “fancied up” is what’s expected. But it’s this type of clothing, in most cases, that draws attention to the congregant, not Christ. My advice is to stay away from neon suits and flashing bow ties. Church clothing should be a covering, not a calling card.

Show Some Respect

Some people think it is totally appropriate to wear enough jewelry and feathers to keep pawn shops in business and all geese naked. Others think it is completely acceptable to look like a drunk that slept in an alley all night (no offense to the drunk). Neither shows a sense of respect. The first steals God’s glory, while the second implies God’s house is no different than anywhere else.

Here’s a couple suggestions. Try going to a White House dinner looking like a hobo or a hippie from the 60′s. Receive an invitation to tea from Queen Elizabeth and show up looking like you just got out of bed and never took a shower. Unless you’re a bonafide rock star, security personnel may escort you to a private room to “get acquainted.” So then, if dignitaries of earthly kingdoms demand respect, why shouldn’t we offer it to our Heavenly King? Is God not greater than Obama? (clear throat)

Beware of Legalistic Standards

However, whatever you wear, don’t be too quick to judge another’s spiritual condition by what they wear. Only God knows the heart.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. – Rom 14:4 KJV

Sadly, I have been around many believers who consider one style of clothing a sign of spiritual maturity, while another style a sign of spiritual waywardness.  And you know what’s funny? It doesn’t matter which side of the spiritual tracks, there’s always somebody looking at another thinking, “They’re not right with God.”

Legalism cuts both ways, dear friend. For example, I have been to churches that ridiculed any woman who wears pants, or a man who never tucks in his shirt. On the other hand, I have been in congregations that blatantly condemned all dress and tie-wearers as right-wing, self-righteous, fundamentalist, nut jobs. In both cases someone judged another’s spirituality based on outward appearances, alone. In both cases one group’s set of standards were being used as a guide to what is spiritual behavior, and what is not. That’s LEGALISM!

Believe it or not, the most modern, non-denominational, praise-and-worship-style congregation can be just as legalistic as the narrow-minded traditionalist. I may not prefer to preach in blue jeans on Sunday morning, but I’m not going to condemn someone who does. Likewise, when I don’t wear a suit and tie on Sunday night, I am not going to condemn someone who dresses like he’s going to a funeral.

Context, Context, Context

Ultimately, how you dress should be determined by the context of your community. Small, rural congregations might not feel comfortable dressing for church in the same way a metropolitan First Baptist may. Similarly, churches in depressed economies may adopt different dress codes than upwardly mobile societies. The key is to be respectful, honorable, and considerate of the holy moment at hand. Whatever fits that bill is good enough.

Just keep this principle in mind:  Grace accepts, Maturity develops, and Love constrains.

Don’t make appearances the only thing about which you’re concerned. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is far too important a message to be drowned in petty arguments about whether it is appropriate to dress up for church, or go dress-casual. Many people in the world have to worship Christ underground – literally. Dress codes are the least of their worries. Additionally, the drug addict who needs hope and help may not have any clothes left that he hasn’t already sold to get high. The single mother of five that walks into your church may have barely enough energy to survive, much less do her hair.

Do all things to the glory of the Lord, but keep things in perspective, OK?

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism [or be legalistic]. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? – Jam 2:1-5 NIV

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