A Couple More “Blogs Worth a Look”

November 17, 2009 at 1:38 am (Announcements) (, , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

There are two blogs I’ve been wanting to highlight for some time. Both have been a great encouragement to me when it comes to godly living and practical homemaking. 🙂

The first is Desiring Virtue, where my friend Jessalyn writes. Here you’ll find GREAT practical tips and encouragement on all kinds of things: from cloth diapering to spending time with the Lord to budgeting and cooking! I absolutely love her blog! Check it out!

The other is Pursuing Titus 2, which contains a plethora of articles and studies on topics related to, you guessed it–being the kind of woman God calls us to be in Titus 2! While I heartily encourage others to enjoy this site, I also want to advise caution for younger readers. This blog deals with some subjects that may not be appropriate for young or unmarried ladies. So, as always, seek your parents’ wisdom and counsel before browsing this blog.

That’s all I have for today! May the Lord bless you as you seek to please Him!

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Why Don’t You Open That Door?

February 25, 2009 at 12:20 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

open-that-doorHaving my own bathroom sounded glamorous. As soon as we moved in, I set to work stripping off disgusting grey wallpaper, sanding down the uneven walls and painting it a delicious color of green. (Well, Lauren doesn’t like it, but it’s not her bathroom, now is it?) I hung new towels and put out the perfect canisters and soap dispenser, but I soon discovered that my “beautiful” bathroom has a nasty problem: mildew. Tucked into a back corner of the house, the humidity is high and the slimy black stuff appears from nowhere, crawling across the ceiling or down the shower wall and clinging to the tile grout.

I’ve rolled up my sleeves and scrubbed with bleach water (thought I’d ruined my hair when I accidentally spilled some on my head!) more times than I care to recall. For a couple of days the tile shines and the ceiling glows white again, then one morning I wake up to realize the mildew has crept back into life. Where does it come from? How does it get here? Why does it keep coming back?

One day my ever-wise mother responded to my frustrations: “Why don’t you open that door?” I blinked. I didn’t even realize that I do keep it closed, until she mentioned it. Of course, I have a cartload of excuses. For one, I don’t want everyone who comes into my room being tempted to use my bathroom–or even being able to see into it. You know, sometimes I have sweaty work-out clothes hanging up in there. Or dirty work jeans. Or the dirty clothes become restless and tumble out of the closet–it’s my bathroom, none of their business. In these cold winter months, it stays warmer than my 45-degree bedroom, which is nice for showering and getting dressed in the mornings. “So,” she said, “Close the door when you’re showering and dressing and leave it open the rest of the time so it can air out.”

Are you wondering why I’m going on and on about the mildew infiltration in my bathroom?

The mildew offered to me a prime picture of my heart. When I trusted Jesus it got cleaned up, adorned with good things and I thought it looked pretty good–for a while. Slowly, so many nasty things began to creep in. Where did they come from? How did they get there? Where there’s a bathroom, there will be mildew to fight. Every heart is deceitful and full of wickedness. When I notice the mildew in my heart, I go for the bleach and scrub brush and get to work cleaning, scrubbing, purging, repenting, weeping, praying. For a couple of days I seem like a shining, new individual on the inside, and then the mildew comes creeping back. Always, it comes creeping back. Always it will come creeping back, but “Why don’t you leave the door open?” Mom said.

Leave the door open? What in the–?

Accountability. Instead of closing myself up inside, hiding behind a white-washed door, I ought to be seeking accountability, opening myself up to scrutiny. Not to everyone (I don’t invite everyone into my room), but to my parents, to my siblings, to my closest friends and sisters in Christ. Not necessarily about everything. Some things are private-like showering–but do I really need the door closed when doing my hair? Putting on make-up? Or even cleaning? In fact, I might need accountability for those very things! What are the sins and struggles that keep creeping back into my heart and life, those nasty things I try to hide from everyone else? Thinking my agenda is so important, my bad habit of reading everything I see, or beginning to focus on outward appearance and worldly success. Or the fact that I don’t pay attention when Mom is giving me instructions because I think I know what is and isn’t important. Or not being disciplined about personal study or prayer time.

Just like getting some air into a mildew infested room can slow down the mildew’s growth, being transparent about my failures can often spur me to overcoming them and can dampen the temptation. Having someone know that I am tempted in a certain way can strengthen me to resist. After all, they might ask, or they might notice that mildew growing now the they know what’s behind that closed door. They can guess what I might be hiding when I say, “I’m doing fine.”

Seeking accountability involves more than just sharing struggles. There’s little need for a mutual pity party. Accountability involves action on both parts: prayer for each other, suggestions, Biblical guidance. When I seek accountability, I should be praying and seeking prayer. I should be seeking suggestions, tools and ideas for overcoming and resisting, for cleansing and purifying. And I should be looking for root issues. When I seek accountability, I should be implementing suggestions and expecting follow-up inspection. The goal is a mildew-free environment, not just an open-door policy. It’s not that I want people to have to look at my disgusting bathroom. The goal is to become presentable: a bathroom fit for the King.

“Why don’t you open that door?” Mom said. It’s habit now to close it-at least most of the way, but when I see itjames-5-161 standing closed, a white wall barring the view into my “inner” room, I open it to let it air out. Sometimes it means I actually have to put those sweaty work-out clothes away, or wash that hand-towel, or get more toilet paper, or even go to work on that mildew when I’d rather be doing something else. I’m trying to learn to open up my heart to accountability, as well: let it air out to help slow down the mildew’s growth, implement other’s suggestions for cleaning, seek root problems and deceitful heart issues. Hopefully, at least, I’ll notice more quickly when the black slime begins to spread.

And perhaps it will encourage others to see that there’s hope. We all have mildew in our bathrooms and our hearts, but a little accountability and a lot of bleach can go a long way in the cleaning process.

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Esteemed by God

December 6, 2008 at 6:14 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , )

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I spent the morning with Daniel-a man, recognized in heaven as a “man of esteem”. As I read I tried to pick out what it was that earned him this title from a heavenly messenger. As a youth, he purposed to please God, and then sought the approval of his authorities for his goals. And God blessed him and granted him favor with his authorities. Later on, his purpose to please held strong. His enemies, in jealousy, commented that were they to find anything of which to accuse him, it would have to be in his worship of God. And so he was thrown to the lions. His enemies knew that his worship would remain steadfast, regardless of the circumstances. God allowed the wicked edict, and the unjust punishment in order to glorify Himself when He rescued Daniel from the mouths of the lions. Daniel sought the Lord diligently in spite of sickness, fatigue and spiritual warfare and was rewarded with understanding from the Lord. When he discovered that Jeremiah had prophesied the end of the captivity in his time, he bowed his knees before God, confessing his sins and the sins of his nation and pleading the Lord’s compassion-praying according to God’s known will. God said he had humbled himself and set himself to understand God’s word. As soon as Daniel started praying, the Lord heard him and sent answers-because He esteemed him. God esteemed a man. He thought highly of him. The very last verse is a message from God saying, “Go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” Five hundred years before Jesus, the firstborn from the dead, Daniel was promised a resurrection to glory.

I must purpose to be like this man whom God esteemed: set my heart to please God, to serve those He has placed me under with humility and wisdom, to worship God with diligence, in spite of obstacles, to be guilty only of worshiping Him, to pray according to God’s will, repenting for myself and others, to set my heart to understanding His word.

Lord, I purpose now to please Thee
It becomes my solemn duty
To be so in love with Thee
That visions of Thy glory fill me.

May the fault of faithful worship
Be the only cause for cursing.
Set my heart to understand Thee
That I may proclaim Thy beauty.

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Wasted Emotion

November 24, 2008 at 7:43 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Christmas was fast approaching as my friend, Lauryn, and I soaked in the hot tub and dived into one of our typical sort-it-out conversations—this time about emotions. Because we are both very definitely women, and we both very definitely have them. By the time our skin had wrinkled like a soggy walrus we’d concluded that God created us with emotions—in order to worship and enjoy Him. A few days ago, we sat on my bed discussing this nagging issue once again—this time focusing in especially on anxiety, an emotion we find plaguing us both. Because every season in life carries uncertainty. Tomorrow has worries. Over the past several months the Lord has been working in my heart and understanding to reveal to me how anxious I am and how dishonoring to Him my anxiety is.

“Be careful how you walk,” Paul told the Ephesian believers. “Make the most of your time. Don’t get drunk, that’s wasteful.” (Check out Ephesians 5:15-21) Recognizing the wastefulness of getting drunk—or wasted—isn’t particularly foreign or counter-culture. But the point of Paul’s message is so much more than the cry of a teetotaler. “Don’t be wasteful,” he warns us. I find myself glibly pointing out wasted money, wasted time and wasted energy, the whole time spilling out emotional energy that was meant to be poured at the feet of Jesus. My emotions are a stewardship I find much more daunting. The Lord has blessed me with an abundance of emotional energy. What am I supposed to do with it? Paul offers the solution. “Don’t be wasteful, but be filled with the Spirit!”

Solomon speaks in Ecclesiastes of a time for everything: for sorrow, for joy, for death, for life, for love, for hate. My heart flooded with truth when I discovered that there is a time for anxiety. David was anxious because of his sin. When we are at enmity with God, cut off from His mercy, lost to His grace, we ought to be anxious. We ought to worry. We ought to be terrified and afraid. But perfect love casts out fear, and when we have such evidence of love as Christ’s death for us, we find the cure for anxiety in the words of Jesus Himself. “Don’t be anxious about your life…all these things the pagans chase after…You seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will He not also along with Him, graciously give us all things? In Jesus we have everything pertaining to life and godliness.

Jesus redirects us to pursue God’s kingdom. Paul redirects us to gratitude. “Sing! Rejoice! Give thanks!” Look at what the Lord has done for us! He saved us, not on the basis of works we’ve done. We needn’t be anxious about our works! He provides for the birds of the air. He died for us! Won’t He supply all our needs? We needn’t be anxious about our needs. He chose us from before the foundation of the world, that we might walk in Him. He is the beginning and the end. We needn’t worry about the future! Who can bring a charge against us? Jesus is the judge who justifies! We needn’t worry about our salvation. We are secure in Christ. Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. We have the Spirit. We needn’t waste any more energy on anxiety. God is in control. And we are blessed to be His stewards.

do-not-be-anxious

“What do you do when you’re anxious?” Lauryn and I asked each other. When our hearts start pounding, our thoughts start racing and the emotions seem beyond our control, we’re learning to guide them back to the truth, by the Spirit. We sing. We thank. We pray. We rehearse God’s works. We remember His grace. We cling to His promises. Sometimes we weep. Always we grow.

And always the Lord proves faithful. Always He is in control. Always, through His mercy and peace we survive. We more than survive–we overwhelmingly conquer.

Listen to Lauryn’s original song, “Do Not Be Anxious”. Enjoy!

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Power, Love and Discipline

November 14, 2008 at 7:15 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , )

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I walked into the college library one day, laptop tucked under my arm and cast a quick smile at a little Japanese girl, sitting nearby. As my computer booted up she approached me with her own laptop. “Can you help me?” A wave of helplessness washed over me as I looked at her screen-not the blue screen of death, but the completely normal screen with EVERYTHING in Japanese. I maneuvered my way through familiar icons to help her connect to the internet and sent her on her way, ignoring the little voice that whispered, “You have something more important to help her with-she needs Jesus.” Paul told Timothy to fan into flame his gift-apparently evangelism. And he said, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of POWER, LOVE and DISCIPLINE.” No one ever quotes that verse with the last two, but they really struck me. Often I shy aware from sharing God’s truth-afraid I won’t be able to communicate. Afraid I’ll find a hard heart. Afraid I’ll offend. God’s given us His power to speak out in boldness. He’s also given us His love for the lost to speak out in boldness. And He’s given us His discipline-after all, we are His disciples. It’s not easy. It takes effort and practice-even for someone with the gift of evangelism, as Timothy apparently had. But it’s something God’s given us, and we’d better be using it.

Lord, I’ve got the power inside
Which formed the moon to rule the tide.
I’ve got the love which sent Thy Son
To give His life for everyone.

I’ve got Thy holy discipline
Now freeing me from self and sin.
Why do I fear the broken soul
When Thou hast made my own heart whole?

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A Review for Treasure Seekers

October 12, 2008 at 7:27 am (The Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

Book Type: Financial, Motivational, Christian Living

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? For everyone who loves Jesus and desires to be a good steward

Overview: Most of us realize the truth of the statement, “You can’t take it with you.”  Few understand the impact of the truth:  “BUT you CAN send it on ahead.”  There’s nothing wrong with storing up treasure–as long as our investment is an eternal one.  From Jesus’ simple command to store up treasure in heaven, Randy takes us through six scriptural principles to guide our giving.  Forget the Old Testament notion of the tithe–as if only ten percent belongs to God!  Randy reminds us that EVERYTHING belongs to God and we are only His managers.  We should understand how our Boss wants us using His money.  God Himself proved Himself to be the greatest giver of all–first giving us life, then giving us His Son, and also giving us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness. God loves a cheerful giver!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

This book is brief, to the point and jam packed with gospel truth.  For me the only bad and ugly I discovered lay in my own heart, riddled with greed.

Praises:

Randy writes about what he knows personally.  After being taken to court over his pro-life literature and being told all his income exceeding a certain amount would go to support pro-choice organizations, he made a radical decision–took a minimum wage job and set up all of his writing profits to go directly to the Lord’s work.  After reading “The Treasure Principle” several years ago, I wrote in my journal, “As children of the King, we are not to live like princes, but to give like princes.”  It’s a challenge!  But the results are enormous joy–and peace in a secure investment.  Paul thanked the Macedonians for their gift, “Not because I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that increases to your account!”  Randy does an excellent job of realigning our financial understanding with scripture.

Concerns:

Rarely do I recommend a book this highly.  No concerns.

Tips for getting the most out of this book:

At a time when the United States is facing a financial crisis, at a record low and politicians are sweating

and debating about ways to bail out Wall Street, we find ourselves reassessing our pocket books.  In the midst of tightening our belts and budgeting, don’t be quick to nip and tuck your giving!  Get out your Bible, get out your bank statements and a pen and paper and check your priorities against God’s Word.  Where is your treasure?  Where is your heart?

Visit Eternal Perspective Ministries, home of Randy Alcorn.

Buy the Treasure Principle at Amazon.com–it’s a worthwhile investment.

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What Are You Waiting For?

September 26, 2008 at 8:11 am (Articles, Godly Living, Marriage, Purity, Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

what-are-you-waiting-for“It is not good for man to be alone,” God said, surveying His highest creation. “I will make a helper suitable for him.” Putting Adam to sleep, He took a rib from his side and fashioned a woman. Truly a match made in heaven.

But in a world filled with more than one man, how can we know whose helper we are meant to be? In the tale of the Three Weavers, Huberta flirted with many and ultimately fell short of the standard for a prince. Hertha settled for a handsome page until she discovered him to be less than perfect. How did Hildegarde keep her heart pure, control her emotions and wait patiently for her true prince? She kept ever before her the silver yardstick which her father had given.

Many Christian girls seem all too willing to “settle” and cast a critical eye over their choice only after taking the plunge. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” seems the only standard in scripture-a pitifully low standard for manhood, though slightly higher than that of paganism. If you were created to be a suitable helper, are you willing to wait for a suitable husband? It wasn’t until Adam had been placed in the middle of God’s garden (his work field) that God brought Eve to him. Wisdom and scripture stand witness to the powerful service that a suitable husband/wife team may have. Priscilla and Aquila trained Apollos in the truth of Jesus Christ. Francis and Edith Schaeffer opened their home to scores of wounded souls. The sphere of a godly single man and a godly single woman combine to create manifold sphere of ministry. A husband and wife together may enter the house of a single woman, adopt orphaned children or open their door to a drunk man. Do you desire to serve the Living God as a married woman? Marry a man who is serving God. Do you desire to raise a family that glorifies God? Settle for nothing less in choosing the leader of your family than God’s standard for those who will one day lead in His family.

Paul gave his disciple, Timothy, some clear qualifications for the men who lead God’s household. “He must be above reproach, married once…not a new convert…he must have a good reputation with those outside the church…holding to the faith with a clear conscience.” (Please take a look at 1 Timothy 3:1-10 to put the rest of this article in context.) The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 had a husband who was known in the gates-as he sat among the elders of the land. The virtuous young woman is willing to wait for the man who will prove himself qualified to serve the Lord. Measured by the silver yardstick, her husband must measure up to every last inch demanded by scripture:

  • Reputation: He should be above reproach. No accusation will stick because he lives his life with such purity that everyone knows his high morals. Those who work with him and around him can speak no evil of him unless it concerns his love for God (as Daniel experienced). Don’t be afraid to ask! Many men tell dirty jokes or flirt on the job. I know women who have discovered, after marriage, the pornography, drug or alcohol addictions that others could have told them before. Wait for the man who has been tested and has proven his character.
  • Purity: His sins are as far removed as East is from West and yet the Lord is clear that a divorced man commits adultery when he remarries. A godly man’s current state should be radical purity-fornication in the past may be cleansed, adultery in the present (by remarriage) becomes a guilt you share. Wait for the man who asks you to be his only wife.
  • Faith: He should be rooted and grounded in Jesus, having proven his obedience, his stability through time and his understanding of the commands of Christ. Many fiery young Christians swing back and forth between legalism and lawlessness in the course of their early conversion. Some are too quickly elevated and fall into sin or pride. Wait for the man who has slowed the pendulum to a right division of God’s word and an accurate understanding of God’s ways.
  • Leadership: He should have learned to discover and become able to teach truth, demonstrating a love for God’s Word and a lifestyle of obedience to it. For the health of your relationship with him and with other believers he should understand Biblical discipline and accountability, and embrace Biblical roles. God commands husbands to wash their wives with the water of the Word. Wait for the man who will take your hand and lead you in pursuit of the Holy One.
  • Hospitality: He should be willing to open his home to believers for fellowship and unbelievers for outreach. He must understand that he is to imitate Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, not to the healthy, but to the sick, not to invite those who could repay, but those who couldn’t and who is preparing His home for us above. The home is the epic center of ministry-a haven for all who enter, a rest for strangers, a hospital for the broken. Wait for the man who will open his door and heart to those whom Jesus loves and who will take up the basin and towel to serve his guests.
  • Generosity: The man of God is not driven by money. Instead, he is a diligent worker, joyfully serving the Lord in whatever he does and eager to share whatever the Lord provides. Remember that he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord repays with great interest! Wait for the man who stretches out his hand to the poor and shares his bread with the hungry.
  • Self-control: Evidence of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is an essential. He should not be easily angered or offended, given to conceit, wasteful of time, money or other resources, given to addiction or gluttony. He seeks to be at peace with those around him, keeps his emotions from ruling his tongue. Wait for the man whose every action and word demonstrates his sense of responsibility as God’s steward.
  • Humility: Does he accept correction from God’s word? Does he shun glory for himself? Is he slow to consider his opinion or feelings weighty? Does he admire and defer to older men? God gives grace to the humble. He dwells with the humble. He commands us to associate with the lowly. The conceited understands nothing. Pride goes before destruction. Wait for the man who owns his complete dependency on God for everything-his character, his life, his livelihood.
  • Commitment: When you marry, you marry for life and you promise to honor and obey, to joyfully join in your husband’s decisions and visions. He should not be hasty to make decisions or commitments, but careful, wise and willing to stand by his word, even if it hurts him. Wait for the man who has demonstrated that his word is good-the man you can trust to keep his vows to you forever.

Wisdom and scripture speak also of the blessing in honoring your parents, in seeking their counsel, their wisdom. Run to your father and share with him your desires, your goals, and your standards. If he loves the Lord, he will be delighted to encourage and uphold you. With revelation comes accountability. Is he not obedient to the Lord? Does he seem to discard your convictions? Still he should know for whom you wait. And perhaps your silver yardstick may become a standard to which he will aspire. Or one which he can respect. One which he can recognize as a wise choice for you. At least you will have offered him the responsibility he should accept. If the Lord can turn a king’s heart like water, can turn the Red Sea to dry land and turn the tide of history for His glory and for the good of those who love Him, He can work through your parents, no matter who they are. Wait for the man who has gained your parent’s full confidence.

Do you find the yardstick so tall that you think you could never measure up to be the partner of such a man? My sisters, may I remind you that your faithful waiting is the very tool by which the Lord can fashion you into a woman of worth. All too often I have seen a young woman eagerly clutching the silver yardstick in her youth only to lay it aside when the waiting became irksome. Trust the Father who has never yet deceived you. Your faithfulness while waiting will prove you faithful in marriage. Your commitment in singleness is honoring your wedding day vows. You are worth the price you place on your forehead. Set it high and accept no lower offers. In the meanwhile, seek the Father’s training to teach you to weave a mantle suitable.

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Part Three: Diving In! Continued…

August 29, 2008 at 6:26 am (Articles, Godly Living, Modesty) (, , , , , , , )

This is the second half of an article on swimwear within the series on Situational Modesty. To view the first half, click here.

Of Swimsuits and Glory

So, in a practical sense, how does a swimsuit glorify my body rather than God? Or, put another way, what potential problems are there with modern swimwear? I’ll address this in a list (not a list of rules, but things to think about).

  • Swimsuits are almost always skin-tight. No matter how much skin they cover, they tend to show every curve, every crease. In some cases this can be even more provocative than blatant nakedness since the sleek fabric reveals the form of your body without any skin imperfections.
  • Typically, swimsuits show a lot of skin, even one-pieces.
  • Swimsuits are usually low-cut, showing cleavage or hints of it, as well as a lot of skin in the chest and back area.
  • Many girls have to adjust the straps, bottoms, or neck line of even “modest” swimsuits because of their tendency to hike, crawl, and cling, and this draws attention to the areas you’re trying to keep covered.
  • Sometimes even “modest” swimsuits will end up revealing more than you bargained for—wear typical swimwear on a cool day and you could be flirting with disaster.
  • Often times, because swimsuits do not measure up to our day-to-day standards, we end up wearing them with a mind to show off our bodies and get attention—even if our swimsuit is the most “modest” one on the market. (Remember how I selfishly looked forward to wearing my high-necked one-piece and shorts because it was a chance for me to show off my body more than I usually could?)
  • We girls have this nasty habit of comparing ourselves with one another and competing with one another—swimsuits only spur this on because they highlight our bodies, making the pool deck a stage for a beauty (or “sexy”) competition.
  • Swimsuits send a message to those around us about our character. Wearing a flattering, stylish swimsuit with little regard for your brothers in Christ tells others that you are either oblivious or care more about your own reputation than your brother’s purity. In contrast, taking even baby steps to cover up your body out of deference to your brothers, love for your (future) husband, and for the glory of God will show that you care and will gain you respect and gratitude.
  • In general, swimsuits are no better than wearing underwear (two-piece = bra and panties, or undershirt and panties; one-piece = leotard, or corset with straps). In some cases (as with bikinis), underwear would be more modest! I actually saw a girl wearing cotton underwear and a matching cotton cami-style sports bra while swimming at the lake! Interestingly, she was more modest in her underwear than a lot of professing Christian girls are when they go to the beach. My sisters, this simply should not be the case! In the context of this series on situational modesty, based on your own standards for dress, would you ever wear underwear in public? No, you’d be ashamed to! (Hey, now we’ve come full-circle!)
  • In almost every situation, Christian girls compromise their day-to-day standards when they put on a swimsuit. Consider these questions: Would you wear underwear in public? Would you wear skin-tight tops in public? If you wouldn’t wear skirts above the knee elsewhere, why would you wear them for swimming? If you wouldn’t bear your back elsewhere, why do it when you swim? If you wouldn’t wear skin-tight, short shorts for any other reason, why should you change your standards in order to swim (especially in light of the fact that men wear the same type of loose, long shorts that they always wear and swim just fine)? What inconsistencies do you see in your own practice?

Oh Brother!

Now that we’ve considered some of the problems that typical swimsuits cause in general, glorifying our bodies rather than God, let’s take a moment to consider the stumbling block they can be for our brothers in Christ. The following question will tie the last section with this one, and it is central to our discussion of situational modesty: Whatever the situation, is it possible to truly dress to the glory of God while creating stumbling blocks for our brothers? In other words, all excuses and situational justifications aside, are we truly modest and discreet when we wear something that causes a brother to stumble?

In God’s word, we see that He takes very seriously the issue of causing our fellow believers in Christ to stumble—we are to avoid it at all costs, even at the cost of our fashion, fame, or friends—and at the root of this is love. In light of the fact that we are to spur our brothers on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-25), we’d do well to carefully consider how we can avoid causing them to stumble and instead look for ways to promote their growth in godliness!

Let me take a moment to stress this fact: We are not to dress modestly to gain favor with God, nor out of duty or self-righteousness or fear. We are to dress modestly and discreetly out of love for God and love for our fellow believers, seeking God’s glory and our brothers’ good!

Now, with that established, I encourage you to check out the Modesty Survey and click on the “Swimsuits” section. Study the statistics and PLEASE take the time to read the comments that guys have left. As you will see from the survey, in general, godly guys do NOT want to see your cleavage, your midsection, your upper thighs, a lot of skin in general, or fabric stretched tightly across your body, showing every curve and fold of skin. I would suggest that, at a minimum, we seek to honor our brothers in these areas. If you do show your cleavage, if you do show your belly, if you do show a lot of leg, if you do show a lot of skin in general, or if you do show your form by wearing something skin-tight, then you are showing off your body at the expense of your brothers’ purity, preferring your own “comfort” or “practicality” or “popularity” or “fashion sense” to their walk with the Lord. Think about it ladies. Die to your own interests and look out for the interests of others. Let’s honor our God by honoring our brothers—men for whom Jesus died!

Consider the following scenario: A young man admires a young lady he knows from church because of her character and love for the Lord. He’s already interested in her, but fighting for purity of heart. At a pool party hosted by a family from church, she wears a “modest” swimsuit that meets her church’s dress code. She’s modest compared to a lot of Christian girls, but very immodest compared to her own everyday dress. The young man falls and falls hard because he sees the outline of her body and considerably more of her skin than he’s ever seen before. His imagination runs wild and the girl that had once been a pure interest and an encouragement has caused her brother (someone’s future husband) to stumble. I’ve asked for the opinion of Christian young men regarding this scenario, and I have found that this is not just a common occurrence—this is typical.

A number of young men, including my husband along with some family members and friends of ours from college, have asked with honest frustration, “Why don’t girls just wear T-shirts and modest shorts to swim in? That would just make everything easier for us!” These guys, like most, swim in shorts. “Why can’t girls do the same?” they ask. And these guys are even willing to wear T-shirts, too, out of fairness to girls. Why do they want both shorts and a T-shirt? Well, for many guys, chests are a big problem—the skin around them and the fabric stretched across them make a godly guy want to look away. So shorts alone won’t do. On the other hand, many guys, and many of the same guys for whom chests are a problem, will have a hard time with a girl who simply wears a dark colored T-shirt over a swimsuit. “It looks like she’s just wearing underwear with the shirt and it’s very suggestive.” Legs can be just as big of a stumbling block as the bust can. Thus, many guys would prefer for girls to just keep both their tops and bottoms covered with a dark colored shirt and shorts.

Granted, not every man shares this opinion, but many guys do. Unless you know exactly where each guy stands who will see you, do you really want to play at odds: “Only four out of ten guys will stumble at what I’m wearing”? And consider the fact that you’d be causing four out of ten guys of ALL ages to stumble. When we talk of tempting our brothers to stumble we usually think of the guys our own age. Lust doesn’t just “go away” in older men, and it starts very young in guys, disturbingly young—in many cases well before the pre-teen years. Jesus warned that whoever caused a little one to stumble might as well have a millstone hung around his neck (or hers) and be thrown into the sea (Matthew 18:6-10). Is your swimsuit going to be your millstone?

Considering all I’ve said in the past two sections, I want to make it clear that we must be careful not to label articles of clothing as “evil”. That misses the point. The point is to be discerning and to seek God’s glory. For example, can I say that bikinis are evil? No, but applying some basic discernment leads me to the conclusion that they (along with many other swimsuits) have no place in public—at least not on Christian girls. Legalism reacts and says bikinis are evil no matter what. Love and discernment respond with reason and say bikinis are not for public consumption, but they can be worn for the glory of God within the context of marriage! I hope that helps you to understand where I’m coming from.

Tips and Creative Obedience

We’ve laid quite the foundation now for determining how best to dress for the pool or beach. Some of you may be shocked at the effect your swimming attire has on your brothers. You may even be wondering if you should swim around them at all! That’s a good thing to discuss with your parents or husband.

Now, as far as getting creative…If you can find a swimsuit (or combination of swimsuit pieces) that is truly consistent with your convictions, great! If you can’t, then I encourage you, with the guidance and practical help of the authority God has placed over you, to seek to create your own swimsuit—tailor made to honor God, your father or husband and your brothers in Christ. Here are some tips when you think about doing your own thing:

  • Watch out for, well, “showing through” your swimsuit top! Wearing a padded bra underneath a T-shirt or whatever top you plan on wearing should take care of this—no matter the temperature outside or in the water!
  • Layer! If you have a nice top you like to swim in that isn’t tight (meaning it may not stay down on your torso), you can keep from exposing your midsection by either wearing a tucked-in camisole or one-piece swimsuit underneath.
  • Leggings or bike shorts are a great way to keep your legs covered when your shorts or skirt may ride up in the water. You can also loosely connect your skirt (or shorts) to the leggings with a loop of thread and a button—this will keep your thighs covered and keep the skirt from floating up when under water!
  • Shop thrift stores for lycra or other water-friendly fabric and colorful prints that you can use to make your own swimsuit that actually fits your convictions.

Here are a few examples of girls that have sought to be consistent with their convictions when in the water:

  • One of my college friends wears a bikini for her husband, but only for her husband. She wears long board shorts and a dark T-shirt to swim in public. She simply doesn’t want to show any more of her body in public—she doesn’t see why she should!
  • Another girl I know has standards that are more conservative than my own. She’s working on making her own swimsuit that includes a skirt, but also has leggings down to her ankles. I’m delighted to see that she’s seeking to honor the Lord by being consistent with what she and her family believe!
  • ModestSwimwearSolutions.com—Here are some girls who made their own swimsuits because they didn’t want to compromise their convictions when they swam. They sell swimsuits, swimsuit kits, and patterns (though they’re not cheap)!
  • Abigail and I usually wear T-shirts and shorts. I wanted to come up with something more feminine than just a dark T-shirt and long gym shorts, so I recently bought two skirts at a thrift store, made of swimming-appropriate fabric, one black and one with a tropical floral design. I made the black one into a knee-length skirt that I wear with knee-length bike shorts underneath (covering to the knee being my personal standard). Then, I made the other flowery skirt into a top—it has cap sleeves, a boat neck, and blouses nicely. I wear a camisole underneath, tucked in to my skirt. My goal was to have a swimsuit that I would be comfortable wearing anywhere in public. My husband and I are really happy with the way this project has turned out!
  • Some girls I know are ok with sleeveless tops in their day-to-day dress, so they might wear a long, very conservative tankini swimsuit top and shorts or a skort that also meet their standards, or those of their family.

The results will be somewhat different for different girls and their families. The point here, however, is that wherever you do draw your lines for modest dress, you don’t have to compromise them when you swim. Be consistent! You’re free to pursue creative obedience as long as you are submitted to the authority God has placed over you, seeking to please your father or husband.

I hope you’ve been able to see the heart of this issue more than the specifics mentioned. To sum up, we should embrace the godly sense of shame that compels us to cover up, rejecting the world’s wisdom, so that we can dress to swim for the glory of God, being careful to guard our brother’s purity. And we should first and foremost seek to grow in love for our God and our brothers and sisters in Christ—the love that motivates careful obedience in this area (and in every other part of our lives, as well!).

Grace and Peace!

part one / part two / part three / part three cont’d / part four

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Consulting with Father

August 27, 2008 at 5:11 am (Articles, Family, Friends & Ministry, Godly Living) (, , , , , , )

“Sometimes I feel a little bit envious of you,” my friend Tabby confessed. “You know so many people and have so many opportunities to serve the Lord.” My mouth dropped open. So many people and so many opportunities. Yeah. And I miss most of them. Those that I see overwhelm me and leave me feeling helpless, small and alone.

There’s a lot of things I keep to myself. Many simply aren’t fit for sharing or could be embarrassing for others, but when I’m feeling low or alone I call Tabby. And I ask her to pray. Even if I can’t tell her why. On the days when I’m fighting tears and I’m stranded in the middle of an ugly situation far from a phone, I send a quick cry to Father and I remember Tabby. She prays for me every day. Every day I know that she’s been talking to Father about me. And about the people I know. She’s asked me for a list of names and she faithfully cycles through them, praying for me and the people the Lord brings across my path.

“What do you pray for me?” I asked her. “Mostly just scriptures,” she answered, shrugging. “That the eyes of your heart would be enlightened, that you would run with endurance, that your love would abound still more and more, that you would approve the things which are excellent…” she went on, quoting beautiful passage after beautiful passage—God’s own words which she prays over me every day as she talks with our Father about me. My eyes widened as I listened, suddenly realizing just how blessed I am to have such a faithful friend—a faithful comrade at arms. She lives states away now. I see her every few months. But in the spiritual battle we’re waging, she’s got me covered.

If you think there’s no ministry for you at home, think again! Perhaps you’re like me, thinking, “I don’t even know what to pray for!” Paul prayed often for those he loved. Tabby has patterned herself after him, consulting daily with the Father. Here’s a few of the passages she uses:

For believers:

Matthew 5:13-16 To be light and salt of the earth…

Matthew 6:33 To seek first His kingdom…

Matthew 22:37 To love the Lord!

Romans 12:1-2 To present themselves to God…

Romans 13:14 To put on Jesus!

Romans 12:9-13 To have godly practices…

Ephesians 1:18-23 To know the hope of His calling…

Ephesians 5:7-10 To walk in the light and learn to please the Lord…

Ephesians 5:16-17 To walk carefully, redeeming the time…

Ephesians 6:13-17 To put on the armor of God…

Philippians 2:3-5 To do nothing from selfishness…

Philippians 3:14 To press on toward the goal…

Philippians 4:5 To have a gentle spirit

Philippians 4:6-7 Peace!

Philippians 4:8 To have pure thoughts…

Colossians 1:9-12 To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…

Colossians 3:2 To set their minds on things above…

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 To rejoice always…

2 Thessalonians 3:5 To direct their hearts into the love of God…

1 Timothy 4:12 To be examples…

2 Timothy 2:21 To be vessels of honor…

2 Timothy 2:22 To flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness…

Hebrews 12:1-3 To run the race with endurance…

2 Peter 1:5-9 To gain these qualities…

1 John 3:18 Not to love in word but in deed…

1 John 2:15 Not to love the world…

For unbelievers:

John 8:32 To be set free by the truth…

Romans 10:19 To confess and believe…

2 Timothy 2:26 To escape from the snare of the devil…

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Beheading Ye Olde Beast

August 20, 2008 at 10:08 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , )

Brilliant sunshine streams down on the sparkling helmet of the valiant warrior, decked in armor, sword drawn, advancing along the dangerous pathway. But if you’re a warrior like me, you’ve discovered that the most dangerous dragons rear their heads somewhere underneath the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness…somewhere deep down inside your heart. All too often I find the monster Pride residing there. And I wave scriptures at it, like “Have this attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus!” and “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble!” Blinking, it snickers, and the billowing smoke from its nostrils sends me coughing and wheezing and tumbling backward. If you’re like me, you know you’re often guilty of feeding that dragon instead of destroying him, but as the dragon of pride grows, he will destroy you!

The secret to ousting the beast is simple, but painful. After all, destroying a dragon who resides in my heart feels about akin to chopping my own head off.

Espy ye opportunities for humbling and give hearty chase.

A friend once shared this astonishing piece of advice with me. I find it goes completely opposite of my nature—I want to take every opportunity to make myself look as good as possible. Instead, discipline yourself to share your weaknesses, your struggles, your failures. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Tell embarrassing stories on yourself. Laugh when you do something stupid or awkward. Take opportunities to try something new—even if you might fail. Paul discovered his thorn in the flesh was given to him to keep him humble because God is glorified through weakness. Glory in your weakness so that God may be shown strong.

Serve ye others.

Jesus said, “The greatest among you must become the servant of all.” He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and we are to have His attitude of humility. Don’t look out for your own interests, but for the interests of others. Be willing to vanish from the spotlight and work backstage. Stoop, take up the basin and towel and wash the feet of the Lord’s people.

Make use of thy shield to deflect ye praise.

Invariably it comes—praise. And the one giving the praise is doing well. For you, each shaft of praise my be a dart of poison, shot from the dragon’s mouth. Send those shafts somewhere else! “The Lord has blessed me with good teachers.” “My parents have worked hard to train me this way.” “The Lord’s been working on me a long time about that—I’m thrilled if some of it is finally sticking.” “I hope the Lord is pleased.” “My brother built most of it.” “It was my sister’s idea.” “My dad suggested I try this.” “You should hear my friend play!” So, the credit is no longer yours? Good. The Lord says those who seek praise on earth have their reward in full, but your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Keep company with ye lowly.

Jesus set the example for us by hanging out with the lowly of His day. For me there are certain people I’d rather not be seen with—they say embarrassing things or act immaturely or wear weird styles or simply need to take a shower. Essentially, they are about three pegs below me on the social ladder. They make me look bad. The Lord spoke through Isaiah saying, “I dwell in a high and holy place and also with the lowly and contrite or spirit.” Do I want to be where the Lord is? I can’t attain His high and holy place no matter how hard I try, but I can hang out with the lowly.

The scriptural promise is manifold—the proud will be brought low. But to those who choose to be lowly, the Lord will say, “Come up here and sit by Me.” And I find the given grace is two-fold: not only does God extend grace to us, but He lends graciousness. If you’re already lowly of spirit, nothing can humiliate you. Do you have a nasty habit of walking into doorways? Your laugh saves you from ridicule. Are you teased about being so short? Your trampled pride will not become irate. Has no one noticed your splendid accomplishment? Well, really, it was the Lord’s work. Nothing will offend you. Why should you be offended?

Ah, but that dragon hates to be humiliated. He hates to be annoyed. He hates serving others and spending time with those “below” him. With a huff and a puff, he’ll walk right out of your heart to find a more comfortable nest.

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Part Three: Seven Principles for FREEDOM

July 19, 2008 at 3:13 pm (Articles, Godly Living) (, , , )

Posted by Abigail

We all want a solid line, chalked in bright yellow on the pavement. A line to define the difference between obedience and legalism. Between freedom and sin. Once upon a time God drew yellow lines in the sand, but we crossed them anyway. Laws do not keep us from crossing, they only reveal to us that we have crossed. Usually our thoughts have crossed ahead of our feet. Under grace, God has left many lines up to us to draw, with the measuring-stick of holiness to guide us. Always our highest aim should be to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“How will my exercise of freedom most bring glory to God?”

Seven important principles line that ruler, to help us determine where our freedoms extend in each circumstance. Is the scripture silent about the issue? No prohibitions? No commands? Let’s run it through a filter of principles for glorifying God.

F. The Fire Principle (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

When my works come before Jesus, will this be burned away as chaff, or is it something Jesus can reward?

R. The Reputation Principle (1 Corinthians 10:23-29)

Do I seem inconsistent with Christianity to my unsaved neighbor? (“So what? You’re just like us.”)

E. The Evangelism Principle (1 Corinthians 9:1-27)

Does it help or hinder the gospel? Would exercising my liberty allow me to reach farther or would it cause offense or confusion?

E. The Edification Principle (1 Corinthians 14:12, 26)

Does it build up my fellow believers?

D. The Destruction Principle (1 Corinthians 8:7-13)

Instead of simply not building up, could it tear down fellow believers? Could it cause a brother to sin or violate his own conscience?

O. The Obstacle Principle (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)

Does it offend anyone? Create an obstacle between them and the Lord? (We’re not talking about conforming to the heavy rules of others—Jesus wasn’t afraid of offending the Pharisees. We’re talking about honoring the convictions of those who might be led into temptation or caused to blaspheme through your actions.)

M. The Master Principle (1 Corinthians 6:12-13)

Yes, it’s permitted, but is it profitable? Yes, it’s allowed, but is it an addiction? Does it compete with Christ for a place in my heart? Does it enslave me, master me, control me or cause me to do its bidding?

Solid lines, painted by someone else, disguise invisible chains. We’re not to be enslaved again to the weak and elemental things of the world. To empty practices. To forms of godliness with no power. Our freedom in Christ is given, not as an opportunity for the flesh, but to allow us to serve one another in love. By understanding and limiting or exercising our liberty, we find an amazing freedom: to fellowship in unity with Christians from other cultures or backgrounds, to be diverse in our manifestation of the Holy Spirit, to reach out to unbelievers in purity and truth, to avoid addictions and sins and to love as Jesus loved.

Liberty isn’t about being lawless—free from all law. It’s about being free from the dominion of sin—free to choose the right thing to do, and to do it.

Disclaimer: Parts of this post have been shamelessly stolen from teachings by my father, Lane.

Part One / Part Two / Part Three

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Part Two: The Pharisee and the Weak Brother

July 18, 2008 at 2:15 pm (Articles, Godly Living) (, , , )

Posted by Abigail

Every coin has two sides. Legalism is no exception. On the one hand we have the legalist who ties up heavy burdens to place on the backs of others, controlling the lifestyles of others directly. I introduce you to the Pharisee. On the other stands the one who is bowed down by an imagined burden (often placed there by someone else), terrified to move or grow for fear he might step over that line into sin. Please welcome the Weak Brother. I’m not creative enough to have invented these characters on my own—we find them in the pages of scripture.

Meet the Pharisee (2 Timothy 3)

Our most dangerous advocate for extra rules is the Pharisee, who mirrors the Jewish legalists of Jesus’ day. Jesus told them, “You nicely set aside the word of God for the sake of your traditions.” The greatest commandment is to “Love Yahweh with all your heart, soul and mind” and the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In creating rules and regulations that go beyond Scripture, the Pharisee becomes an idolater, more interested in legalities (and his own power through them) than in glorifying the Lord or tending His lambs. Jesus said loving Him equals obeying His commands, but His commands are not burdensome. The Pharisee’s rules are heavy and overbearing, while the Pharisee himself, like an unjust lawyer, is always looking for loopholes to disobey God. (Check out Galatians 2:4 on the issue of circumcision.)

While building laws of the letter, the Pharisee misses the purpose of God’s commands. He reads “Don’t get drunk, for that is wasteful” and forbids the use of any alcohol, while wasting time, resources or health in some other fashion. He won’t be seen with a neighbor who drinks, missing opportunities for the gospel, and he refuses to visit a church that uses wine for communion, shutting out fellowship. She wears skirts to her ankles and pins her hair up underneath a veil, but is loud, obnoxious, flirtatious or rude.

Jesus constantly collided with the Pharisees of His day. Thy rebuked His disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath. “You’re harvesting!” The Sabbath had been created as a day devoted to God—and the disciples were in His presence, learning of Him. Jesus told the Pharisees in no uncertain terms that the silly rules they’d made up to define work were legalistic. By the same legalism they would deprive a sick man of healing on the Sabbath. “Can’t I do good on the Sabbath?” Jesus demanded. Did it tire Him out to heal a man? He was worn out only with the Pharisees endless nitpicking. Did the Pharisees keep the Sabbath holy? Tell me, is plotting the death of the Son of God good or evil?

The Pharisee has a deadly disease of the heart. He wishes to appear godly to others, to gain sway over others, to rule by rules. What’s the cure? Jesus spared nothing in His dealings with them. Let the word of God cut and convict. A tumor like the one festering in a Pharisee’s heart can only be removed by the sharp blade of Jesus’ words.

Meet the Weak Brother (1 Corinthians 8-10)

This form of legalism is simply the surfacing of ignorance, frequently fueled by past experiences or traditions, sometimes aggravated by the Pharisee. Paul tells us the Weak Brother simply doesn’t understand the freedom he has in Christ. He feels safer surrounded by rules that may keep him from temptation, but in his mind, breaking these rules has become a sin. How can he, in good conscience, be free to cross his imagined boundaries?

Paul speaks of meat sacrificed to idols. The Weak Brother of our day recalls his days of Rock and Roll and feels guilty when his toes tap time to Christian Rock. He trembles to think of Christian brothers smoking peace pipes in Turkey. For the man with ghosts in his past, avoiding certain things may be necessary to prevent his stumbling. Who am I to condemn him for choosing a path of abstinence? My part is to uphold him and honor his convictions and avoid causing him to violate his conscience.

The Weak Brother desires to please the Lord, so he creates rules that will keep him from displeasing the Lord. At an appropriate time, show him the truth of liberty in scripture. This form of legalism is more of an allergic reaction: give him a heavy dose of the truth and a washing with the water of the word, frequently, until symptoms subside.

Where Do You Fit In?

Most of the accusations of legalism actually spring from a pricked conscience, convicting of sin or calling to obedience and holiness. For those who simply hold personal convictions or practices to keep them from temptation, who am I to judge the servant of another? To his own Master he stands or falls. The choice to limit Christian liberty is personal—it’s between you and God. The choice to obey is not. God is a particular God. He seeks devotion as evidenced by literal obedience, springing from a heart full of love for Him.

Almost humorously, there are those who become legalistic about avoiding legalism. They grow to worship a definition of legalism, giving it greater importance than obeying the Lord or loving others. “Don’t be legalistic!” they shout, and toss out God’s commands. Beware the deceivers, who use the grace of God as an excuse for licentiousness.

Worried about appearing legalistic to others? First: it is God whom you serve, and those who are serving the world (“believers” or not) will not appreciate your obedience because it convicts them. Second: if you are seeking the Lord and desiring obedience to Him, you’ll find yourself upholding the greater commandments. The Pharisees were legalistic, tithing dill and cumin but neglecting mercy. Legalism can’t abide with love, since its very nature dishonors God and others. Seek the Lord devotedly, study His word diligently, interpret it carefully, apply it faithfully and teach others to do the same and you will stand approved and unashamed at the coming of our Lord.

Part One / Part Two / Part Three

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Inside and Out

July 7, 2008 at 8:30 am (Articles, Godly Living, Modesty) (, , )

This morning I washed windows. The outside, of course. Proudly I surveyed my work, expecting an aura of beauty to emanate from the “clean” glass. Instead I noticed smudges, smears and spider webs—on the inside.

When it comes down to the topic of modesty, we grope for specifics, details, style revues, check-lists. “Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Bible came complete with Simplicity patterns?” one friend asked me. But a law can never express modesty, since every law can be circumvented by obedience to the letter, not the spirit.

I’ll never forget a Mennonite wedding I attended. During a quick pit-stop in the ladies restroom, one girl caught my eye. Dressed to the T as every Mennonite girl should be—long sleeved dress, buttoned up the front to her proper collar, belted tightly around the middle, her hair tucked up into a black skull cap—she primped in front of the mirror. She was tugging the front of her hair, puffing it up so that as much as possible showed around her pretty face. And her dress! I’d never seen anything like it. Sure, it was the exact same pattern every other girl was wearing. But it was leopard print! I’d never experienced leopard print and Mennonite in the same room before. When she finally finished and made her way out of the bathroom it was with a mincing, swinging gait and a gaze that scanned the full room as if measuring every other girl present.

The home school Forensics league I was a part of during high school had a dress code, too—for the sake of modesty and professionalism. One of my friends always wore a hot pink suit—on par with dress code, of course. Modest, by the letter of the law. When her name as “Hot Pink Suit Girl” became well established, she confided that she was thinking of switching to an electric blue suit. “Just to shock people,” she said. “The pink suit—well, everyone’s used to it now.” At one tournament she washed her almost-black hair a bleach blonde and delighted in the stir she caused. “I tried squirt-in blond highlights,” she told me another time, in disappointment. “But no one really noticed.”

Certainly there’s nothing wrong with leopard print. Or hot pink. Or blond hair. And yet, something is wrong with these pictures. Terribly wrong. These girls both conformed to all the rules of modest attire placed upon them. Their demeanor trumped their dress. Their goal was to stand out from the crowd. To be noticed. To make waves. To turn heads. Their attitude screamed, “I want attention!”

Both claimed to be advocates for modesty.

Have we boiled modesty down to a checklist for clothing?

When it comes to the nitty-gritty reality of godly living, having an imaginary line across my chest or wearing skirts past my knees is easy, but modesty is much fuller than the idea of “covering what needs to be covered.” At its root, modesty is moderation, humility, lack of pretension, not seeking to put itself forward or demand attention. Even dressing to conceal can become a point of self-righteousness, meant to point out how holy or devoted to God I am—because I dress modestly. As Lauren said, the motive of our dress should be the glory of God. To dress for the glory of God, we must first desire to see Him glorified—while we are diminished. We must pray that He would increase, while we decrease. We must be not only willing, but eager to be eclipsed by His beauty. Modest apparel flows naturally from a modest heart.

Jesus rained down a fiery sermon on the hypocrites of His day who sought to appear righteous on the outside, for the praise of men. “You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” (Matthew 23:26)

As you are reassessing your wardrobe, reassess your heart. As you are washing the outside of the windows, be sure to wash the inside first so that when you are finished the light may flow through unhindered by smears or cobwebs on the inside or the outside.

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Making First Impressions a First Priority

July 3, 2008 at 12:38 am (Articles, Godly Living, Modesty) (, , , )

I’ve had many discussions on the subject of modesty lately, including one with a mother of teenage daughters who has asked if we would address the issue of modesty on this blog. We have links to other sites that are helpful on this subject, but still there are questions concerning the practical application of modesty—and what it looks like. In this article, I’ll just touch the tip of the iceberg by addressing the importance of dressing for God’s glory and not our own.

Judging. Stereotyping. It’s what we do. When we notice someone walking into a room, we immediately begin to categorize them, making assumptions as to what kind of person they are. We classify them based on their dress, their body language, their facial expression, the amount of noise they make. Perhaps it would be helpful to avoid this kind of thinking, but we do it none the less.

Now think about it on the flip side—YOU are the one walking into the room. What does your “first impression” (your appearance, the way you carry yourself) tell others about your character? The mindset today is that clothing is a form of self-expression. So what are you expressing? Does your clothing scream “look at me!” or does it display the qualities of godly character you possess and are pursuing—purity, confidence in the Lord, a readiness to serve, and gentleness and reverence to name a few?

Do you make heads turn when you enter a room because you are trying to look like a model (whether you succeed or not)? Or do they stare because you dress purposely out of touch with the culture so that you’ll feel more holy? I’ve been there—on both ends of the fashion (or non-fashion) spectrum.

A Christian woman should be neither an eye-sore nor eye candy. When we place as our primary goal either conformity or nonconformity, we have missed the target completely. Our ultimate goal in everything is to point to our great God and Savior (1 Corinthians 10:31)—and in our clothing, as Christian women, this means we desire to reflect both His beauty and His purity. We are to be an adornment to the gospel of God—making Him the good news we deliver by our appearance rather than promoting ourselves.

So are first impressions really that important? To a daughter of the King, given the privilege and responsibility of representing Him to a lost world, you bet they are!


Much more to come…

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