Friday, September 30, 2011

Keeping Modesty in Mind

     Show of hands--who grew up with the mantra "modest is hottest" shared liberally throughout their youth group?  Shoved down girl's throats whenever they wore "too short" shorts?  I'm a part of the generation of girls that could not grow up without hearing the phrase "modest if hottest" several thousand times.  But what does God really say about modesty?  Is it really an issue that the church should be concerned with?  And how do we handle modesty in adulthood?

     I began thinking more about modesty after the sermon at my church this past Sunday titled "Fashion" (click the link to hear the sermon in its entirety).  We are in the middle of a series called Culture Shapers, which is (you guessed it) all about the things that shape our culture.  Each message is based upon Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
God calls us to treat our bodies as a "living sacrifice, holy and pleasing" to Him.  If we are walking around in the skimpiest, tightest clothes we can manage, are we treating our bodies as living sacrifices?  It is easy in the world we live in to dress a certain way to get attention, without even thinking about the spiritual side of things.  The media we encounter every day tells us that in order to get a man, we must show off our "assets" through the clothing choices we make.  But in the Scriptures, we are told that our value does not come from who we are on the outside, but who we are on the inside.
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.   -1 Samuel 16:7
Our "inner beauty" is of utmost importance to God; it should be of the same importance to us, even though it is more "culturally acceptable" to place the emphasis on outer beauty.  So I don't think the real issue is "what can I wear" and "what can't I wear."  The real issue is a heart change--aligning our desires with God's so that clothes aren't our concern anymore.  Our concern becomes the beauty that comes from a deep personal relationship with our Creator and treating our bodies as what they truly are--a temple for the Holy Spirit.

     So what should we do?  Throw out all of our clothes, run to the store and buy a wardrobe of turtlenecks?  I don't think that's the answer.  I like the clothes I have, and only two of my shirts are turtlenecks. ;]  But I am more mindful about the clothes that I wear out of my house.  As a sisters in Christ, I feel that we should not purposefully put a stumbling block in the path of our brothers in Christ.  We cannot control what goes on in a person's head, but we should not be enabling inappropriate thoughts by dressing provocatively.  And you know what they say...the fish you catch depends on the bait you're using.  I don't know about ya'll, but I don't want to catch the type of fish that likes me because of my low-cut top.  That type of fish isn't around for the long-haul.  Instead, I want the type that is attracted to me because of the part of me that God is most concerned with--my heart.

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pic from here

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Honor Thy Father and Mother

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. –Exodus 20:12

This past week, I’ve been thinking about how to properly honor my father and mother.  My parents and I came upon a moment of discord recently when we had differing opinions over a decision that I was trying to make.  I let them know what I was thinking, and they essentially said to me, “this is the decision you are going to make, no question about it.”  I felt very differently about the situation, but because I knew that I had to honor them, I took their decision without much dissention.

Throughout that day my thoughts kept going back to the idea of how to honor my parents as an adult.  The way they told me which decision to make made me feel very much like a child again.  However, no longer am I a child in need of total instruction.  At 23 years old, I am fully grown (although I am not saying that I have no areas in which I can grow).  If my job situation were different, I would already be in my second year of living on my own.  I realized that the challenge I’m facing right now is how to be an adult while still living under my parent’s roof.

My father and I had a great conversation on this topic a couple days ago, and I truly appreciated what he had to add to my thoughts.  He mentioned how, when he was 23, he’d already been living on his own as a missionary in Puerto Rico for two years.  He was considered much more like an “adult” since he was living like one.  I felt like he took one of his final thoughts right out of my head: if I were financially able to be on my own, these issues would not be so pressing—it would seem much more natural for me to be the “final” decision maker in my life. 

After Dad spoke about his life at 23 and how it is different from mine, I was able to explain that I didn’t want to be disrespectful to them, but I just didn’t agree with how they’d told me what my decision would be.  In fact, I didn’t think they should be telling me which decision to make at all.  From a lot of thought and prayer on the Scriptures and words from those wiser than me, I came to an understanding of how I should be honoring my parents in my adulthood.  Instead of letting them make my decisions as they did in my childhood, I should go to them looking for input and wisdom of people who have done this all before.  But in the end, the final decision is mine to make.  Today I was able to speak with both of them about my decision which lead to a huge turning point for the three of us (my parents and I).  They both said they agreed with what I was sharing about using their input and then making my own decision.  It was a huge relief to reach common ground on this issue through prayer and respectful conversations.  And I feel much more adult-like.  :]

Now I don’t write any of this thinking that making decisions like this will always be easy on my parents or myself, but you’ve got to start somewhere.  These struggles in being treated like an adult by your parents are not solely applicable to me, but they seem to be magnified since I still live with my parents.  Has anyone else ever had to go through these “growing pains” with your family?  Or do you have any words of wisdom to share?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands. 
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth. 
I rejoice in following your statues
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts 
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
-Psalm 199:9-16
These verses stood out to me this evening.  I'm sure if you went to any type of summer Bible camp you recognize part from the pledge to the Bible (or am I the only person who did that pledge?).  My prayer is that I would daily strive to keep God's word first and foremost in my heart and mind.  May His decrees bring joy to my life, and may I find peace in His commands.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Song of the Week

Artist: Michael Buble

Any video with cameos by Bono and Whoopi must be awesome.  ;]

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Am I Third?

Earlier this week I was remembering one of our favorite phrases at WinShape: I Am Third.  This phrase stems from the idea of God First, Others Second, and Ourselves Third (or JOY, Jesus-Others-You, as some learned it).  I can't remember the first time I heard this teaching -- it's always been a "truth" at church.

But on Tuesday a friend brought up an idea he'd read about-- should we really be prioritizing like this?  Or, at the core of our being, should we be all about Jesus and let everything else flow out from there?  Instead of putting God, others, and ourselves in a list of priorities, we should be thinking of them in a sphere with God in the center.

At first my mind was very resistant to the idea.  It was like trying to make my body accept a new kidney after getting rid of the one I'd had for 23 years.  But the more I think about it, the more that idea makes sense.  Christian culture has sometimes taken the idea of "thirdness" to an unhealthy level -- a place where we aren't taking care of ourselves.  In the JOY model, it almost feels like they're saying, "How you are doesn't matter."  But if we live with God at the center of everything, our lives should have the perfect balance of service towards others and taking care of ourselves. 

I think the goal should always be to put God at the core of everything we do.  With God at the center, every act and thought will bring Him glory, which is the ultimate goal.  Putting God at the middle of everything is definitely something to strive towards in my life.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. -Mark 12:30-31

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