Monday, 29 July 2013

DOES MODESTY MEAN SHOWING LESS SKIN?

Is modesty merely a question of how much skin is exposed? How do we reconcile a desire to be attractive with being modest?

‘Less is more’ is something advocated by some interior designers, especially those who prefer the minimalist look. However, when it comes to a lady’s dress, this rule does not necessarily apply.

Plunging necklines, mini skirts, skin-tight or see through clothing which leaves little to the imagination. In general, most of us have a fairly good idea of what modesty is notwhen a lady flaunts herself by dressing or behaving in a sexually provocative way.

                                                                        


A lady’s modesty means so many different things to people of various cultures and religions. From a biblical standpoint, a lady who attempts to draw undue attention to herselfoften in a sexually provocative wayand places greater emphasis on outward adornments rather than inner beauty has already crossed the line as far as modesty is concerned. 


                                                                      
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Paul, while exhorting young Timothy concerning the place of women in church, taught: “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do” (1Timothy 2:9-10).

Moderation is the key. Being modest doesn’t mean a lady cannot use makeup or wear expensive clothes or jewelry. Her clothing, too, needn’t be drab or frumpy. In my humble opinion, she just needs to dress in something comfortable and femininethat which befits the occasion. How she dresses herself for an ordinary day at work, interview, date, formal dinner function or picnic will, of course, vastly differ. In my humble opinion, an ao dai is an example of a dress which sums up elegance, femininity and modesty.

A gentle and loving lady radiates a glow that cosmetics and dress cannot duplicate. Her modesty draws greater respect from mature men than a lady who chooses to expose skin indiscriminately. I am sure Christian single ladies who are wise would not want to attract the “wrong crowd”.

Every lady wants to look good. A desire to be beautiful is almost instinctive in a lady. It is not unscriptural for a lady to want to be attractive. This is a positive quality though there are differences in opinion as to how far she should go in the pursuit of beauty.* Do you think Esther would have caught the eye of the king had it not been for her beauty and willingness to be subjected to many rounds of elaborate beauty treatment?

A lady pastor shared how she once loved to wear mini skirt and skimpy tank topbut that was before her conversion. As she began renewing her mind with scripture, the Holy Spirit convicted her to wear more modest apparel.

The ‘inner man’ (pardon, I mean woman) needs to be changed first before we can see positive transformation of the external. Modesty is not merely a question of how much skin is exposed. And setting rules is probably not the best way to go when it comes to modesty.

Even so, some “house rules” need to be set in a local church when it comes to modesty. We certainly do not want a situation where the men get unnecessarily distracted and sidetracked as they worship God. Young believers need to be told gently and tactfully where they have crossed the line by other more mature women in church.

 * Checklist: Are you obsessed with beauty?

1. Do you spend a large proportion of your waking hours thinking about or attending to your own external beauty?

2. Do you spend large sums of money to look beautiful and attractive?

3. Do you compare yourself unfavourably with others whom you think are more beautiful than you?

4. Do you judgeaccept or rejecta person based primarily on looks?

5. Do you often lament that you are lacking in something which will make you more attractive?

6. Do you make it a point to expose yourself constantly to books, magazines, internet sites and friends so as to make yourself more beautiful?

7. Are you willing to part with huge sums of money and take undue risks to make yourself more beautiful and desirable?   

For more, please check outhttp://bit.ly/17crD8N



Footnotes:

The above post has been inspired by the two recent articles in CHARISMA:

Why Do So Many 'Born-Again, Spirit-Filled' Women Show Off Cleavage in Church?


 Churchgoing Men Would Appreciate Less Cleavage in Church Too

Any man who says he isn’t at least slightly affected by a scantily dressed woman—as described by Jennifer in her article—is either a eunuch, gay or someone who isn’t telling the truth.

Friday, 26 July 2013

ENTERING HIS REST

What does entering God's rest mean? How do we reconcile it with carrying the cross?




Jesus’ challenge to those who mean business with Him is this: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Indeed, it is a heavy burden for us to carry the cross.

Yet, in another part of the Bible, we read that God has promised rest for His people and we should do our best to enter this place where we cease from our labours:

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11).

How are we to reconcile carrying a heavy burdenlike a crosswith entering God’s rest?

Christ’s command in Luke 9:23 highlights the need for self-denial on the part of believers. We are to die to self and put God first. 

The fourth chapter of Hebrews exhorts believers to enter God's rest. We are to rest in the finished work of Christ **   http://bit.ly/1mw2ccu

As Christ's last words on the cross put it: “It is finished.” There is no longer any need to strive with regards to salvation as we are saved by faith. Furthermore, we need not depend on our fleshly effort when we serve God but on the wisdom and strength which the Holy Spirit imparts to us.

However, the paradox is this:  Living our lives from a position of rest does not imply we stop working out our faith. If anyone has any doubts on this issue, we should be reminded of Paul’s injunction: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Notice the effort and the reason for Paul’s inspiration: "That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me" (Colossians 1:29).

Working out our faith means “carrying our own cross”. Not only Jesus speaks of the cross as the symbol of self-denial. Paul echoes this theme in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Similarly, the third main protagonist of New Testament theology, Peter, teaches: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

If we believe that we do not have to work out our faith, then we will have to cut off the following verses from our Bible:

  • Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13



  • Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14



  • Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27



  • Bear fruits that befit repentance and don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8



  • Narrow and hard is the way to life: Matthew 7: 13-14



  • Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10

However, there is the other side of the coin with respect to the believer's faith walk. What is this rest referred to by the writer of Hebrews? It's a rest typified by Canaan, the Promised Land, which the Israelites failed to enter because of unbelief. When they reached Kadesh, at the threshold of entering the Promised Land, they were intimidated by the “giants” living there instead of trusting in God’s promise—that He is a good God who will bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. http://bit.ly/1bRLAro

Ifas the writer of Hebrews warnswe are not to follow their example, how can we then enter God’s rest?

Firstly, we are to soften our hearts. We choose to obey, trusting that God’s way is best: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 4:7b).

Secondly, we have to come boldly to God’s throneas Jesus has made this direct access possible for us by dying on the cross for our sins: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Entering this place of rest restores to us peace with God. No longer tossed about by double-mindedness, one foot in the world and one foot in God's kingdom, we enjoy a state of blessedness. “But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20).

Notice that God worked for six days and rested for only one day. Isn’t that a good suggestion when we are thinking about how much time to apportion for work and rest? Rest recharges our batteries; once rejuvenated, we are able to serve God afresh. 

We serve God from a position of rest (Isaiah 40:31). This is a panacea against burnout.

Believers should have the characteristics of Mary and Martha. Having found our rest in Him, we are recharged and rejuvenated to do His work (Luke 10: 38-42, Philippians 2:12).

However, entering God's rest should not be equated with arriving at a place of complacency:

Try to picture this state of complacency which God denounces:

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
    and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
You lie on beds adorned with ivory
    and lounge on your couches.

You dine on choice lambs
    and fattened calves.

You strum away on your harps like David
    and improvise on musical instruments.

 You drink wine by the bowlful
    and use the finest lotions,
    but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
(Amos 6:1, 4-6).

Danger of complacencyhttp://bit.ly/MnmHer

Danger of thinking we are saved and securehttp://bit.ly/1mIQKvq

RELATED POSTS

WORSHIP BEFORE SERVICE
Getting ourselves immersed in worship is important. For worship brings down God’s presence and paves the way for effective service.
http://bit.ly/1g2UW2j

STEPPING INTO OUR DESTINY
Let’s rise up to the challenge and step into our destiny. Let’s embrace the fullness of our inheritance in Christ—whatever God has in store for us as symbolised by the Promised Land.

SLAYING THE GIANTS
How do we overcome the giants—whether real or imaginary—in our lives? Before the Israelites were able to possess the Promised Land and enjoy its blessings, they had to conquer their own fears.

WHAT DID CHRIST ACCOMPLISH FOR US?      **
Christ not only forgave our sins and healed our diseases by dying at the cross. Through His resurrection, He defeated death, sin and the devil.
http://bit.ly/1mw2ccu

Monday, 15 July 2013

WHAT WISE PARENTS DO FOR THEIR KIDS

How can parents provide for their children, financially speaking?

Parents often go to great lengths to provide for their children—even to the extent of selling their home and jeopardising their retirement nest egg—in order that the latter might be able to acquire quality tertiary education.

Most parents want to give good gifts to their children. A degree from a prestigious foreign university is often perceived as the best legacy parents can leave for their children. However, whether this premise is true or not is debatable.

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13).

                                                                     


The Bible also tells us that good parents go a step further. They leave an inheritance not only for their children but their children’s children. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22a).

The Chinese have this saying that family wealth will not last beyond the third generation. Probably, an entitlement mentality, a complacent attitude and lack of financial management skills among the young will cause hard-earned wealth to be frittered away.

A fool and his money are soon parted. We see this truth coming to pass in the Parable of the Prodigal Son where the younger son spent his inheritance on wild living—including wasting his substance on prostitutes (Luke 15:11-32).

As such, wise parents would do well to instil in their children values and discipline—including hard work, honesty, humility, thrift, generosity, teamwork, self-sufficiency, delayed gratification and entrepreneurial spirit. Hopefully, the latter will then know how to be good stewards of the wealth their parents have worked so hard to attain.

Teaching and training children in the things of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Proverbs 22:6) must be emphasisedapart from providing for their physical needs or helping them to excel academically. Raising intellectual, materialistic kids who are spiritually bankrupt is a pitfall to be avoided in today’s fast-paced, go-getter world.

Teaching:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Training:
 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).



RELATED POSTS

NO FREE LUNCH
Parents need to instil a sense of autonomy and personal responsibility in their kids. Being firm to our kids is necessary if we want to be kind to them in the long run. For money which rolls in easily will not stay with them; easy it comes, easy it leaves.

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME
Sure we would like to hear that from our children. But is it wise to depend on our kids to provide for us when we retire?

PARENTS AS TEACHERS

WHAT EDUCATION DOES NOT TEACH US



Saturday, 13 July 2013

STEPPING INTO OUR DESTINY


When we step out by faith to embrace God’s calling, we need to focus on His promises rather than obstacles.

God’s goodness is symbolised by a huge bunch of grapes which the spies brought back from Canaan, the Promised Land. It was meant to be a foretaste of future blessing—to show the Israelites that God was about to lead them to take possession of a land flowing with milk and honey.

                                                                       



When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there” (Numbers 13:23-24).

However, possessing the Promised Land was unlike taking a walk in the park. They needed to apprehend by faith the following: God is good and faithful and, secondly, they are able to defeat their enemies.

God had already miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt, protected them from the armies of Pharaohby causing the Red Sea to part for their safe passageand provided manna to sustain them in the desert. Yet at Kadesh—when they were at the threshold of entering the Promised Land—the Israelites still found it difficult to trust in the God who is faithful (Numbers 13:25).

Despite the exciting possibility of abundant blessings that lay ahead, the majority of spies (10 out of 12) were intimidated by various obstacles. They felt the Canaanite cities were too well-fortified and defended by “giants”men of great stature, the descendants of Anak. They saw themselves as grasshoppers and also thought that these “giants” would treat them as if they were grasshoppers (Numbers 13:33). What a self-image disaster!

The Israelites preferred to listen to the negative report of the 10 spies rather than the God-honouring testimony of Caleb and Joshua, who felt they were well able to defeat the Canaanites.

Notice that God had earlier promised His people through Moses that He will lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey after setting them free from oppression in Egypt (Exodus 3:17).

Whenever God leads us into new avenues or possibilities, there are hurdles to be overcome.

Firstly, we have to learn to trust God more. He has already proved His faithfulness towards us in the past. He now wants us to trust Him for greater things. He wants to move us to the next level. He wants us to step into our destiny. But are we ready? Like the psalmist, do we meditate on His faithfulness towards us in the past and trust Him this time? “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago” (Psalm 77:11).

Secondly, do we know who we are in Christ? We need to have a firm grasp of our identity in God’s eyes. We need to catch a fresh vision of God’s calling for our lives.

God’s plan for our lives dates back to the time we’re in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) but all remains dormant until God gives us a revelation of who we are in Him—not just the logos but the rhema word.

Gideon saw himself as defeated, bereft of hope, as the Midianites invaded his homeland. Offering no resistance to the enemy, he was threshing wheat when God spoke to him through the angel, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour … Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:12, 14).

Earlier he had thought he was incapable of leading Israel against their enemies—coming from the weakest clan and being the most insignificant in his family. All that changed when God called him and gave his self-image a boost.

One can see a cup as half-empty or half-full and, in both instances, one is right. Gideon saw himself as “empty” when he was threshing wheat. But when God called him, his mind was renewed. He then saw himself anew, and was filled with courage and boldness. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Like any God-inspired venture, taking possession of the Promised Land is not only filled with exciting possibilities and blessings but obstacles as well.

Do we see—with the eyes of faith—the cluster of grapes from the Valley of Eshcol, a testimony to God’s goodness, abundance and faithfulness.  Or does the foreboding picture of “giants” looming over us stop us from stepping out by faith?

Let’s rise up to the challenge and step into our destiny. Let’s embrace the fullness of our inheritance in Christwhatever God has in store for our lives.

RELATED POST


THE POWER OF VISION

By embracing a God-inspired vision, we can live purposefully—by design and not by default.



Sunday, 7 July 2013

GRACE: WHERE WILL WE BE WITHOUT IT?


In the preceding post, I have written on the dangers of going overboard on grace. *   

However, that does not mean grace is unimportant or irrelevant in the life of a believer. 

The poet Robert Frost penned that “all you really want in the end is mercy.” I think he was spot on there with this one-liner.

As we look at our own lives, weigh our brownie points against our sin, we will definitely conclude that a fair judgment on God’s part at the end of our lives here on earth would be this—‘guilty’.

For we have all sinned and fall short of God’s standards. If not for God’s mercy, where will we be?

As Christians, we are saved by God’s grace, not by our good works, AND stay on in this journey of faith because of His grace.

Like the penitent tax collector, we constantly need God’s grace and mercy. We, in fact, need a lot of His grace and mercy.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14.

Yes, there is nothing wrong with a teaching that emphasises grace provided …

  • it (grace) leads to transformed lives.


  • it (grace) is not misused as a licence for sinning.


  • personal responsibility is being emphasised to the same degree as grace.

                                                                     



The following three posts emphasise the positive aspects of grace:







Footnotes: *     http://limpohann.blogspot.com/2013/07/going-overboard-with-grace.html

Grace is about getting what we don't deserve; mercy is about not getting what we deserve.