Monthly Archives: May 2011

Dress Responsibly

Last night I saw a commercial on TV for the store Pac Sun. They have started a new ad campaign in which they encourage young people to “dress irresponsibly.” I had to look twice to see if that’s really what it said. At first, I was surprised to see a place that was so blatantly pushing for immorality. However, the more I thought about it, the less I was surprised. Our culture is becoming more and more comfortable with immorality. In fact, we have passed the point in which immorality is acceptable. It’s now encouraged.

Modesty has become a large problem within the church. Like so many other problems, we have begun to allow the world’s standard to be our standard. A large part of this issue stems from the fact that everyone seems to have a different view of what is modest. For example, ask the question “how long should shorts be if they’re still going to be considered appropriate?” to 100 different people. I guarantee you’ll hear everything from “they should come down past your fingertips” to “they should come to your knees” to “shorts really shouldn’t be worn at all.” That’s not even taking into consideration what the folks at Pac Sun would say.

One reason we hear so many different answers when it comes to modesty is because the Bible doesn’t give us specifics when it comes to this issue. Don’t get me wrong; the Bible most definitely addresses the idea of modesty. We just don’t have passages that tell us how much skin is too much. However, that doesn’t mean that we are free to decide for ourselves what is appropriate. We still need to turn to God’s word.

First, we know from passages like 1 Timothy 2:8-10 that there is such thing as immodest apparel. Now, that passage is referring to their culture and therefore we don’t expect women today to refrain from braiding their hair. However, the verse states that women should dress in “modest apparel.” We should expect ourselves to do the same today.

Secondly, Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This verse reminds us that the world’s standard cannot be our standard. While the owners of Pac Sun may see their clothes as perfectly acceptable, we as Christians hold ourselves to a higher standard. When it comes to modesty, if you find yourself dressing the same way that the world does, there’s a good chance you need to re-evaluate the way you dress. That’s not to say we should all wear turtlenecks and parkas. But if your standard for what is appropriate matches the standard of the world, something can’t be right.

Finally, we need to remember that our actions can negatively affect others and their spirituality. Matthew 5:27-28 states that anyone who looks at another person with lust has already committed adultery in their heart. In Romans 14:13, we are told not to be a stumbling block for those around us. Each and every time we put clothes on, we need to consider these passages. Are we wearing something that could cause another person to sin in some way? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that no one might look at you in a lustful way. While we cannot completely control how others behave, we need to do everything we can to make sure we are not the cause for anyone’s sin.

While this is nowhere near an in depth study of modesty, I hope it will at least get you thinking. This week, look at the clothes you put on and ask yourself whether or not it’s something God would desire you to wear. Being comfortable and evenly tanned is not our goal as Christians. This summer…dress responsibly.

The Invention of Adolescence

I’m no book critic and this blog is not meant to be a critique of literature. However, right now I am reading a book that I have to share. The book is called Do Hard Things and it was written by two, 18 year old twin boys (Alex and Brett Harris). The book’s focus is to encourage teenagers to stop using adolescence as an excuse for bad behavior. The Harris brothers state that as teenagers, they should still be expected by others and by themselves to achieve great things. I’d encourage you to read the book if you get time.

The book has got me thinking a lot and I think these brothers are exactly right. The truth is, we as a society have created adolescence. That’s the time teenagers are able to “sow their wild oats” and “find themselves” according to the world’s standards. However, it hasn’t always been this way. If you go back to the beginning, being a teenager was not an excuse to slack off and make trouble. In fact, when you look through the Bible you find many young people who were able to do great things. David wasn’t much older than a teenager when he walked onto the battlefield with Goliath the warrior. Daniel and his three friends were all young when they stood faithful before King Nebuchadnezzar. Joseph was a very young man when he was sent off to Egypt to be a slave. All of these men recognized that they were called to do great things, regardless of their age.

I’m afraid that many of the youth within the church have chosen the world’s view of adolescence rather than God’s. Instead of taking this opportunity to grow and do great things in God’s kingdom, they have chosen to use their age as an excuse to be lazy or even sinful. Now is the time to change that.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul wrote this to Timothy: “Let no one look down on your faithfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Sometimes we use this verse as a defense for our youth. We think it means that we shouldn’t look down on them just because they are young and may not act mature like they should yet. That’s not what Paul said though. No one would be able to look down on Timothy for his youthfulness because he was to be behaving like a Christian should. In other words, if the youth are striving to be active and faithful Christians, no one will have reason to look down on them.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul wrote this: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”  Note that Paul mentioned two aspects of his life. He said he was a child and then he became a man. There was no in-between in which he was able to “sow his wild oats.” We need to help our youth understand that they are not only the future of the church, but they are the church NOW. It’s time to stand up and become the men and women that God expects of all people, from teenagers to adults.

I understand that not only teenagers read this blog and so let me make this application for all of us. It is time that we stop using excuses in life for the way that we act and behave. Regardless of our age, sex, race, background, etc. God has given ALL people the ability to be active Christians within His church. Let’s strive not to be like the final servant in Matthew 25 who took his talent and buried it in the ground. Let’s take the opportunities that God gives us and make the most of them, regardless of our age.

‘Til “fill-in-the-blank” Do Us Part

As I opened my web browser this morning, I noticed a story reporting that Arnold Schwarzeneggar and his wife of 25 years are separating. I don’t know much about the couple and my expectations of the Terminator are not exactly high. However, it was sad to read that yet another couple had decided that rather than working things out, separation would be a better alternative. Arnold and his wife are not a unique case. It seems as if every day there are those who call it quits on their marriage. I’m not just talking about celebrities either. I’m sure each one of us know a couple that has split over the last few years.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that doesn’t really frown at these facts. Divorce and separation have become very normal in the view of the world. As Christians, our view should obviously not be that of the world. Regardless, even those within the church have begun to allow the world’s view of marriage to creep into their minds.

What does the world say? The world says that marriage, though special, doesn’t have to be permanent. In fact, marriage isn’t even necessary anymore. As far as the world is concerned, why get married when you can just live together? The sad truth is, the world laughs at the Biblical view of marriage. The world not only laughs at it, but claims it’s boring. Being with the same person for your whole life is looked at as unexciting and dull. Why be with one woman when you can be with many?

The Bible paints a different picture. Not only is being with the same person for your whole life not boring, it should be seen as a blessing! We can’t allow the world to control the way we look at marriage. Look at Proverbs 5, for example. Solomon was a man who had been with hundreds of women. If there was ever a man who would tell us the benefits of the world’s approach to marriage, it would have been Solomon. Instead, in chapter 5, Solomon urges us to be with one person and recognize the blessings that come with that. In fact, he also describes the consequences that occur when we approach things in any other way. Solomon understood that being with one person is a blessing from God. God’s view of marriage is clear. Marriage is not meant to be the temporary thing that the world has made it to be (Matthew 19:3-9).

It seems funny to me that almost every person, when taking their vows, will say the words “’til death do us part.” The world has removed the word “death” in their mind and replaced it with whatever it is that they deem appropriate. If it’s another woman…”til another woman do us part.” If it’s a disagreement…”til a disagreement do us part.” It’s time we take marriage more seriously and recognize it as the blessing that God intended it to be.

For those of you who are getting ready to take the plunge into marriage, I hope you’ll consider these things and make sure you are prepared to make the commitment you need to. For those of you who are already married, I hope you will sit down with your spouse and remind them that regardless of the situation, you’ll be there to work things out. And for those of you still looking for that person, I hope you will look for someone that views marriage the same way that you do and the same way that God does.

Starving Ourselves

When was the last time you went several days without eating? I’m not talking about time you may have set aside for fasting in the past. When was the last time that you got so busy and distracted that eating simply slipped your mind before you realized that it had been several days since you had a meal? That doesn’t happen. Our stomach growls, we become shaky or weak, we lose energy and we know that it’s time for us to eat. In fact, when I was younger I knew it was time to eat simply by what the clock said. If the clock passed noon, you would have thought that my brother Daniel and I were dying of starvation. We knew it was time to eat. We knew we needed to eat. We knew that if we didn’t eat, eventually we would die (though Daniel and I often claimed that would happen immediately if my parents didn’t have lunch ready in time).

New question: when was the last time that you got so busy and distracted that feeding yourself spiritually slipped your mind for several days? That happens a little more often. We recognize that we need to feed our physical bodies, but for some reason we think we can go days, if not weeks, without feeding ourselves spiritually. For some reason we think that showing up on Sunday morning for a “quick bite” is going to be enough to sustain us spiritually. If we only ate a physical meal once a week, our world would be filled with weak and dying people. Why does it surprise us that the church is filled with weak and dying Christians?

Jesus said, “I AM the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger; and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). On multiple occasions, Jesus fed the people with physical food but it was His words that brought true nourishment. Unless you have something that I don’t, the only way we can know the words of Christ is by reading the Word of God. That’s how we are supposed to fill ourselves. That’s how we are supposed to receive the spiritual nutrients and vitamins that we need to survive. If we want to be strong, healthy Christians, we MUST be in His word. Instead, we fill ourselves with junk. We’ve decided that television, movies, work, sports and all the things of this world are what we want to “eat.” In other words, we are trying to survive on junk food. Like a college student who eats only Ramen and Coke, you’ll soon find yourself weak and unhealthy.

The only way we can grow spiritually is to be like the psalmist who, referring to the righteous man, wrote, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). If we are not in God’s word every day, we are going to wind up weak and dying. And I don’t use the words “every day” to mean often. I mean that each and every single day should be seen as an opportunity to read and study the Bible. You wouldn’t go an entire day without eating, would you?

I offer a challenge for those of you who are willing to do it. I know that often when someone gives an application we are hesitant to try it but I hope that you will. Pick just one day over the next week to fast. You don’t need to make a big deal of it or let others know (Matthew 6:16-18). But on that one day, during the time you would usually eat a meal, take that time to study your Bible instead. When you feel your stomach growl, remember that your spiritual stomach is craving food too. Hopefully this will offer us a chance to remember that feeding our spiritual body is even more important than filling our physical stomach.

Prioritizing Your Time

They say that you can learn a lot about a person by looking at their bank statement. We tend to spend more money on the things that matter most to us. Obviously a large majority of our finances go towards our necessities (i.e. housing, food, etc.). Those are the things that are most important to us. After that, you can really tell what things seem to be priorities in our life based on where the rest of our finances tend to go.

Jesus made a similar point in Matthew 6:21 when he said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If we see worldly things as most important, that’s where our heart will be.

However, I think we can learn even more about ourselves by not only looking at the way we spend our money but the way that we spend our time. The way we spend our time is a great indicator of what’s most important to us. Imagine if once a month you received a “time statement” that let you know exactly how you had spent your time that month. What would you learn about yourself by reading that statement? Would you find that the majority of your time is spent doing spiritual things like reading your Bible or studying with non-believers? Or would you find that most of your time is spent doing worldly things like watching TV or surfing the web? I know that many of us (myself included) wouldn’t be very happy with the results.

This past week, I encouraged the congregation at Bear Valley to make their own “time statement.” I asked each of them to select a couple of days in which they would keep a record of the way they spend their time. I’d like to encourage my readers to do the same. For 2-3 days, write down what you did during 15-30 minute time spans. If you watched TV for an hour, write it down. If you rode your bike for 30 minutes, write it down. If you spent an hour studying Ephesians, write it down. Then, at the end of those days I want you to look back at how you spent your time. I know that it will encourage us to use our time doing the things that God wants.

God should be the center of everything that we do. I’m not saying that watching TV or hopping on Facebook occasionally is wrong. However, when those things become the center of our world, we have a big problem. This week, strive not only to make God a higher priority in your life but instead to make Him THE priority. I am going to push myself to do the same.