Archives for posts with tag: by the Book

by the book blog

My wife tells the story of a time we were vacationing in Brazil and she overheard my mom talking to herself as she watched me from her kitchen table. “My son,” she said, “what happened to him, wearing braids and all these rings on his fingers?” Then she caught herself and continued her chores without expecting an answer. (By the way, I was sporting some pretty awesome cornrows, but for her it was nothing but “braids”).

My mother’s lament perhaps typifies the disappointment of many parents whose sons and daughters didn’t quite follow the conventional wisdom of what men and women should do. And my guess is that my mother is not the only person disappointed in my unusual taste.

I remember walking out of the nail salon at Wal-Mart and bumping right into a couple who attended our church. The husband, wanting to appear cute, said, “Pastor Ivanildo, are you getting your nails done?” At that time, the wife, who knew me a little better than her husband, began to walk away. I said, “Yes, of course,” and showed him my newly polished nails. He was shocked and the wife was nowhere to be seen…

I am adventurous that way. When it comes to stereotypes, unless it is illegal or immoral, I am always game to obliterating them. I just hate the thought of only doing what everyone expects you to do. Life becomes boring that way. Like the older man who heard my story at a restaurant after I had preached in a little church in rural Pennsylvania. He sat silently the whole time, and finally at the end, in a quiet voice, he said, “After listening to you for the last hour, I feel that I have lived under a rock.” This man had retired from working for the railroad and had never left his county in his 70+ years of existence. He was a caveman surrounded by modernity.

We have all grown up with deeply ingrained convictions about gender roles. But the differences between male and female have been grossly exaggerated. Sure, men and women have different areas of their brains that are more active than others. Women in general seem to be more in touch with their emotions than men. Men tend to learn differently than women, etc., etc. But the similarities are a lot more prevalent than the differences. And there are many areas where we complement each other.

Our society clamors for precise answers about what it means to be a man and a woman. We now keep meticulous statistics about women in the work force, as if they were batting averages for baseball players. We rate business environments by how friendly they are to women. Kraft, the company, had to pull an advertisement for diapers off the air because it made dads who took care of babies in diapers look like they were clueless (can I hear an amen for those who are tired of commercials that make men look stupid?). No one knows what to do anymore and Ann Landers is no longer around to answer our complicated questions about men and women.

In this confused environment, we must turn to the manual. To begin with, God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that both men and women were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Of all the created beings, only men and women have the awesome privilege of being like God and therefore being able to represent Him. And this refers equally to male and female. So we are equal in our essence. No man can claim a biblical basis to feel superior or exercise dominance over the other gender. That would be totally contrary to God’s original plan when He created the world.

But then God conferred upon man the responsibility to lead his family. And when I say “lead” I don’t mean “take charge,” I mean “take leadership,” the way Jesus did – with compassion and total abandon on behalf of His bride, the Church, as Paul explains in Ephesians 5. This is how God intended it from the beginning – equal in essence, complementary in function. Nowhere in Scriptures there is even a hint that a man should exercise dominance over his wife and whoever says that there is something to that effect is certainly misusing some biblical texts.

These biblical mandates are all there is. They are crucial but not exhausting. Everything else is culturally imposed. And different cultures vary in the tasks assigned men and women.

I will never forget going to D. C. to participate in the “Stand in the Gap” event, where about 800,000 men gathered in the National Mall to commit themselves to pray and love their wives and families. We were told that there would be women protesting during the event. Sure enough, when we got there, there were a handful of brave women carrying out large signs, trying to drown out the blasting sound coming from the jumbletrons spread around the mall.

One particular sign caught my attention. It read, “Why aren’t you home mowing the lawn today?” I was drawn to it and with great difficulty made my way to the young woman carrying the sign. When I got there, I was screaming in her ears: “I’m here because it is my wife’s turn to mow the lawn today!” She looked at me and said, “You know, you got a point.” We sat down on the sidewalk and for about 45 minutes I explained to her what the Bible really has to say about how men should treat women. She had never heard of such things.

Maybe you haven’t either, but this Sunday, if you care to join us at church, you will hear me talk about what it means to be a man and a woman according to the Bible. Hope to see you there!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

by the book blog

So are Christian couples really divorcing at the same rate (or higher) than non-Christian couples? Well, that depends. It’s true that in areas of the country where a majority of the population is conservative Christian (say the South, for example), the rate of divorce is higher. But no one is accounting for the percentage of this group that is practicing Christians.

And that is usually the story with statistics. Like some sushi rolls I eat at my favorite Asian restaurant in town, many things are mixed together. Consider this: It is also true that people who are not affiliated with any religion are most likely to divorce, but it is not politically correct to remind people of that.

I find it most interesting that one study actually found that couples who are active in their faith are much less likely to divorce. Catholic couples were 31% less likely to divorce; Protestant couples 35% less likely; and Jewish couples 97% less likely. Hmm. Some Jewish guys might be updating their profiles on those dating sites right now (yes, I have Jewish readers, believe it or not).

There are many other statistics related to marriage and divorce in the U.S that are not totally accurate, including that one that says that 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce. But I don’t have time to elaborate more. If you are interested, please read Ed Stetzer’s article here.

Marriages end up in divorce for a variety of reasons but I believe when you peel the onion you see one thing and one thing only carved on the core and that is selfishness. Couples who are quick to divorce normally put their needs ahead of the needs of others. Though they think about future adverse affects on their children, they don’t think they are bad enough to keep them from divorcing when compared to their own suffering in the present. They may consider income loss and a protracted court battle, but in the end conclude that anything is better than the misery they are facing in the present. People who divorce are normally thinking of a better future – for themselves.

Now, who am I to judge people’s motives and circumstances? Not everyone who divorces does so for selfish reasons. I personally know people who worked hard to maintain the relationship, only to be rebuffed by their partner at every turn. Marriages sometimes look like a tightrope act and before the one carrying you drops you, the only recourse may be to gently back away while your feet are still touching the rope.

But sometimes you stand still together on the rope, orchestrating an incredibly difficult and dangerous dance, at times losing your footing, at times moving ahead, only to slip suddenly with no warning. But you slide along the rope together, literally inching your way to the destination. And when you arrive there, you are standing closer together, feeling elated from the experience, and belting out across the precipice, “Can we do it again?” Or maybe not…

This week we get to hear from a couple who has done this dance called marriage for 43 years. Pastor Dan and Judi White, from York, PA, will share with our people the joys and perils of a lifetime together and what happens when you decided to put God at the center of your relationship. You will not want to miss it. If nothing else, it may help you become a better dancer.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

by the book blog

In 2013 there was a movie titled “Instructions Not Included.” The original title in Spanish was actually “Returns Not Accepted.” The story was about a playboy who had a baby dropped off at his house by a lady claiming that the mother had sent her to deliver the baby to him. Without a clue as to who the mother was (he had known many women, remember), this otherwise selfish man had to learn to become a parent fast by relying only on his gut and gumption.

Though fictional, this could be the story of so many of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Many of our marriages are failing. Our children are turning against God. Our families are being tossed around like a ping pong ball in a game of amateurs. Many people feel like a ship that has lost its rudder and remains adrift with no possibility of rescue.

But contrary to the movie, our life with Christ comes with instructions. We have a manual. It’s been around for a couple thousand years. It was written over a period of 1500 years by about 40 different authors, making up 66 books, covering anything you might want to know about life and living. But how many of us are really reading the manual and trying to follow it?

Many so-called “Christians” are still living as if instructions were not provided. I am told that every day an average person breaks at least three commandments just on the way to work (I know, some of those violations have occurred within my hearing. Three words: Lancaster County drivers).

Even those who try to live “by the Book” often find themselves being selective about which parts of the Book they follow and which they don’t. One guy ran an experiment for a whole year when he tried to live “biblically,” whatever that meant for him. Though an agnostic, he claims that he found 700 commandments in the Bible and he tried to live by them the best he could. The result, of course, was a book, a website, and rumors have it, a future film with Brad Pitt.

Now, to be sure, the title of our new series at Grace, “… By the Book,” is not meant to suggest that we should live by every rule and commandment found in the Bible. For two reasons – some of those commandments have been abrogated; others are simply impractical to follow. But the Bible is still the foundation, the rock solid ground upon which we should build our lives.

So in the next several weeks we will be looking at “Parenting By the Book,” “A Good Husband By the Book,” “A Good Wife By the Book,” and “Singleness By the Book.” Now I know that some people in our church may not belong to any of the categories listed here. Be assured that throughout this series, the underlying theme running through every topic will be “Living By the Book.” There will be important foundational truths that will apply to all of us, so please come.

What we will find is that when you take this manual seriously, it is still relevant to life today tough it was written a couple of thousand years ago. We will see that in the history of the world no other book can claim divine authority and have the facts to back it up to the extent that the Bible has – transformed lives of people who met the living Word through the written word. The Bible still towers the world of religious literature with a claim to divine. Though many self-professed Christians may relegate it to a dusty shelf (or an app that is never open), enough of us still take it seriously and try to live by it without having to write about our “humble quest,” as the author of the above mentioned book did.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

by the book blog
I have spent a great deal of time trying to bridge the gaps between my children’s and my generation. Consider this: I was already well into my teens when I first saw a T.V. set. There was a T.V. set in the rooms where my wife had our babies so you could say they were born with T.V. I was over 30 when I first used a computer. I made it through graduate school” without owning a PC or having access to any computer whatsoever. My kids would probably not survive one day in school without a PC. In fact, many of their class work is done exclusively online.

My love affair with the printed word is epic. Videos don’t even come close. I can watch a movie today and if you ask me a couple of days later how it ended, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But I can recall the credit lines at the end, even if they only appear for a few seconds. Nowadays most school textbooks are available as e-readers and if you are required to purchase a physical book, online services allow you to rent it instead of making an outright purchase.

I grew up in a home where storytelling played a huge role. Without any cues, the kids would launch into storytelling mode at will. And we enacted some of those stories, especially the ones from the Bible. But storytelling is fast becoming a lost art. I learned early on that telling my children stories about growing up poor, having to walk to school every day on hot and smelly rubber shoes that had been donated by the U.S. via a program called “Alliance for Progress,”  etc., etc., have little or no effect on them.

And it’s not that my children are ungrateful. It’s that the medium they relate to the most is not the talking head (especially if the stories are repeated again and again). I would have to get in front of a camera, add some knockout animation, mix in some killer sound effects while saying a few words about my past, in exactly 30 seconds, in order to grab their attention. But who’s got the time and expertise for that?

So I have learned that in order for me to communicate effectively with my children, I must use social media. I have to text them and comment on their activities on FB and other media. Thankfully, all my children are friends with me on FB and I try to be discreet about how active I am in their space. There are many conversations that you simply must stay out of – it is between them and their friends.

Now my children are older and we have great relationships. Over time they have learned to appreciate a good conversation and I love it. But along the way I made some terrible mistakes with them. I could have used some help in the past as I tried to understand them a little better, but help was not forthcoming.

And that is the reason why, as we kick off our new series at Grace we are calling “… By the Book,” we are featuring nationally known youth specialist, Jonathan McKee, at our church this weekend. He will be here in our morning services as well as Sunday evening. His topic for the weekend is “Parenting the Smartphone Generation.” Please come and bring your friends.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA