Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Old Friend, The Sea

"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in the Lord his God:
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is:
which keepeth truth forever..."
Psalm 146:5,6

When I was just a teenager, Mom, Dad, and I moved from Ohio to the west coast of Florida.

I will never forget the intensity of the blast of July heat when, after the very long drive,
 we finally arrived in FL and opened our car doors to step outside.
I was used to Ohio, having been raised there and having lived there most of my life,
so moving to the tropical atmosphere of Florida was like a shock to my system...
both weather and culture-wise.

Before moving to Florida, I had never before seen an ocean.
I had seen pictures and read stories about them and seen them in movies,
but to actually be near one, to feel sand between my bare toes, and to breathe in the salty smells of sea air was completely foreign to me.

I can't say I remember my exact first time going to see the sea,
but what I can remember is the way it made me feel.
The magnitude of its size was completely overwhelming.
I felt so insignificant,
standing there listening to and watching the raging thrust of the incoming and outgoing tide.
During that first visit, I never dreamed how much the sea would come to mean to me,
nor did I realize that the Gulf of Mexico shore would become a place where I would
retreat to pray and get alone with God.

Through the years, I loved going the evenings when I needed to think and reflect and seek God's face.
One of my favorite places to pray back then was while seated on a boulder on the beach at sunset.
I don't know how to describe the peace or the nearness to God I felt there.
Is there anything in the world more beautiful than to sit and quietly observe
the evening sun dropping ever so gently behind the ocean's waters?
That point, when the top part of its arch disappears,
and it looks like it is swallowed up into the deep,
leaving all shades of orange, red, and yellow in its wake, is just breathtaking.

There came a time when God led me to leave the west coast and move to Florida's east coast
where I was introduced to the waters of the Atlantic.
I loved going there with friends and sitting near the shore...
just close enough to the water to splash and cool off,
but not far enough out to feel unsafe.

One of the most precious moments of my life happened near the Atlantic ocean on a Florida beach.
It was there that the love of my life took me one early February, moonlit night,
after a date, and asked me to become his bride.
I will never forget the way the rays of the moon fell over us, as if God were intent upon making His approval and happiness for us known.

When we were newly married, one of our favorite spots was a barrier island sanctuary called
Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, FL.
I used to love to go there during high tide and watch the water splash upwards through the "blowholes".

Photo Source

Tonight, I am sitting here, at peace,
listening to the continual pounding of the surf against yet another shore...
a steady, never-ceasing rush of sheer power and vast strength.
Though I love hearing it, and its rhythm brings a semblance of calm,
at the same time, the sound of it is staggering.
It is so its powerful roar wafts in through the open door near where I sit.

I feel a sense of sadness, as I contemplate that in the morning,
we have to leave here.
We will stand on the balcony one more time,
and we will bid farewell to my old friend, the sea.
Being near it brings me the same sense of nearness to God as do the mountains.
There is something about the ocean and the mountains that reminds me so much of Him.
Their sheer immensity makes me realize, once again, that the One Who created them
is even bigger than they are.

Earlier, I stood outside and watched the waves, and as I did,
I wistfully told Him how hard it is to leave.

I heard Him whisper back to me,
"This won't be your last time here, child,
and when you return, it will still be here."

There are few things in this life that are unmovable and unchangeable.
The sea is one of them.
No matter how long in between visits,
no matter how far away you roam,
you will always find it just as you left it when you return.
Depending upon the gravitational pull of the moon,
the tides fluctuate, but the waves never stop.
Regardless of who is standing here watching them from this 12th floor balcony,
their faithful incoming and outgoing continues non-stop
and is not contingent on who is around and whether they like or dislike the continual roar.

The waves never stop because they, 
along with moon that pulls upon them, 
are subject to the command and authority of their Almighty Creator, God.

One thing that has always amazed me is the way the waves can only come so far on to the shore,
then they are pulled back by an invisible, but all-powerful command.
Isn't this knowledge, alone and by itself, powerful proof that there is a Higher Power Who has to be maintaining control over such a huge mass of intensity?
Otherwise, wouldn't this colossal force overflow its banks and flood the earth?

God Himself has set the boundaries.

Jeremiah 5:22 says,
"Do you not fear Me? declares the Lord.
Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea.
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it."

"Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth,
as if it had issued out of the womb?
When I made the cloud the garment thereof,
and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,
And brake up for it My decreed place,
and set bars and doors,
and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further:
and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?"
Job 38:8-11

Oh, the glory, strength, power, and all-encompassing greatness of our God is immeasurable!

Nicole Coleman Mullen captured some of what I am feeling,
while she penned one of my favorite songs called "My Redeemer Lives".
I hope you will take the time to listen and really absorb the words.

If video doesn't load, click here.

As I ponder, as I feel His presence, as I once again am reminded of His awesomeness....
sitting here, near this massive, mighty sea...
He seems to say,
"Close your eyes.
Listen close.
Do you hear My voice?
Through the waves,
upon the mighty tide.
I am here."

I sit.
I listen.
And as I listen, it occurs to me that I should grab my laptop and type out His words
and share this preciousness, this fellowship, this communion, this visit with Him....
with you here...
for you may need to hear this, too.

"All of this, child, it is Mine.
I created it.
I maintain it.
I control it."

"The sea is His, and He made it:
and His hands formed the dry land."
Psalm 95:5

"If I can hold all of this in My hands,
if I can keep its force from overflowing its banks,
can I not take care of you?
If I can direct its ebb and flow,
can I not guide your life?
Can I not make your path plain in front of you?
Do you see an end?
You see the wide expanse.
It goes as far as your eyes can behold.
All of this is part of My footstool.
By this, can you see just a small glimpse into how big I really am?
Yet, I care about the smallest, most minute detail of your life.
You are Mine.
I have redeemed you.
Your life has a Divine purpose.
With all of its glory and beauty and magnitude,
I did not send My Son to die for the sea.
I sent Him to die for you.
For your redemption.
You were fallen.
I sent Him to lift you raise you to sit in heavenly places while on your pilgrim earth journey,
then to bring you to where I am to reign with Me throughout eternity.
As you look out over the waters in front of you,
can you fathom their depths?
Can you see what lies beneath their surface?"

"So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable,
both small and great beasts."
Psalm 104:25

"Lurking below what you can see are worlds never discovered.
The depths of what are not seen are beyond imagination.
Into such waters, I have cast your sins.
No matter how big your transgressions,
the sea is big enough to contain them."

"He will turn again,
He will have compassion upon us;
He will subdue our iniquities;
and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
Micah 7:19

"For as the heaven is high above the earth,
so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103:11,12

"No more than you can fathom the expanse of the sea,
can you fathom My love for you.
It is deeper than this.
It is wider.
The sea has bounds.
It can only come so far.
My love for you is without limits.
It surpasses the power of the ocean's force.
See the waves?
Watch them crash.
Some of them are stronger than others.
Some make more noise.
Some gently ease onto the sand, without making much ado.
Others come at it with noisy violence.
Just as I am in control of the waves,
I am sovereign over the ebb and flow of your life.
I control the force and intensity of the trials.
I only let them come so far.
They are held in check by My word and My command.
I know you feel uncertain.
You wonder what I am doing.
You feel the undercurrent, yet you see no path in front of you.
It is the waters cover the depths of the sea.
I have parted waters like these.
My children had no way across.
The sea in front of them looked as impenetrable, impassable, and impossible to ford as the waters that now lie in front of you.
Yet, I made a way for them...
not around the waters, not above the waters, but through the waters.

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
Isaiah 43:2

"Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea,
and a path in the mighty waters..."
Isaiah 43:16

"I moved the waters when they had no where to go.
When the enemy pursued, and was near to overtaking My people,
it was still My will for them to go forward.
So, I parted the waters.
Imagine that, child.
Imagine walking to the edge of this sea and seeing the waters divide.
Picture them forming a heap on both sides of that divide.
Then picture the ground in the middle, a path, being completely and totally dry in front of you.
Imagine that heap of waters on both sides of the path spanning the entire length of the sea in front of you, clear to the other side, past the realm of what you can see.
I made that dry path as far as it needed to stretch in order for every man, woman, boy, and girl that belonged to Me to pass over clear to the other side.
There was no danger of those heaps of water coming down over My people and causing them to drown.
I controlled the elements.
I told them what to do.
If you needed these waters to literally stand in two heaps on both sides of a dry path in front of you, do you believe I could make this happen?
How much more can I part the waters of impossibility in your life?
There is nothing too hard for Me, child."

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh:
is there anything too hard for Me?"
Jeremiah 32:27

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them,
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

If video doesn't load, click here.

"I own the cattle on a thousand hills and everything else, too.
I speak, and the waters of the sea listen and obey My command.
I speak, and the springs of wealth in this world give up their riches.
I am able to take care of you.
I speak, and none can resist.
My will and purpose will be performed in your circumstances.
What you must do is believe.
Moses had to raise that rod in order for the sea to follow my command.
I use human instruments.
Had he not had the faith to raise the rod, the sea would have remained undivided and unchanged.
When you act in obedience, even when it doesn't make sense,
even when My command defies human wisdom and understanding,
you activate My power.
Do you have faith like this?
Are you that sure of My word?
The door is before you, child.
You must lift your hand to unlock it.
I will show you what to do.
But, you must be obedient, no matter how impossible it sounds.
I am controlling every, single detail of your life.
You are here for a purpose.
Every step you take is ordered by Me.
Nothing that happens in your every day life is happenstance or coincidence.
All of it is Divinely instructed and planned.
Don't doubt Me.
Can you not see the vastness of My power...sitting the sea?
Can you not hear the crashing of the waves?
It continues whether you are here or not.
It will be in operation the next time you come here.
The sea will still be here.
It will still be held in check, at My command.
The waves will still be crashing upon the sands of the shore.
A constant, steady reminder of My faithfulness.
You will see."

"The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,
yea, than the mighty waves of the sea."
Psalm 93:4

So, how are you, my friend?
Are there problems in your path?
Is your heart heavy, burdened down with worry and stress?
Perhaps, you are awaiting the results of a medical test
or feeling the sting of a love grown cold.
Maybe you are standing at a crossroads, baffled as to which way to go.
Perchance you are battling a long-term illness, and it seems the night will never end.
It could be that you are now in the grip of deep remorse over past mistakes.
Maybe you now walk through the valley of the shadow of a loved one's death.
Perhaps your womb is barren,
your arms are empty,
your heart is broken.
Maybe you would give everything you own for the chance to share your life and the love that overflows your lonely heart.

Sorrow and heartache are common to us all.
But there is a God.
The same God Who holds the mighty sea within His control and grasp
is the God Who watches over you....the God who will never forget you
because He has engraved you upon the palms of His hands.  (Isaiah 49:16)
You are His chosen one...dear to His heart...the apple of His eye.  (Zechariah 2:8)

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying,
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee."
Jeremiah 31:3

I don't know your personal circumstances,
but I do know some One Who is bigger than any hurt, obstacle, or trouble you face.
He is that big, yet, He sees every tear you cry,
He hears your most faintly-whispered prayer,
and He cares so much for you that He sent His only Son to die an anguished death for your sins.

He longs for you to come to Him when you are broken,
to turn to Him in your moments of grief,
and to allow Him to heal the deepest wounds of your heart.

A few days have passed since I started this devotional.
We are back home now, and I am missing my old friend, the sea.
But, I know it is there...steadfast, unchangeable, and unmovable,
waiting with open arms to welcome us back again.
In a thousand different ways, the sea reminds me of the One Who made it,
and Who now holds it...and me...and you, my the palm of His mighty hands.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Modesty Is Not Legalism, and De-Bunking Four Other Modesty Myths

"Let all things be done decently and in order."
I Corinthians 14:40

I have shared a small glimpse into some of the journey my little family and I 
have traveled in and through and out of legalism and its bondage.
Looking back, I see our deliverance as a sort of "Red Sea" in our lives.
When I say I understand the meaning of legalism because of real-life experience,
I am telling you the absolute truth.
There are many aspects and layers that I have never felt led to share,
but I have said enough here to paint a sketchy portrait of at least a portion of our experience.

For some time now, I have felt God nudging me to delve back into this subject,
but to approach it from a much different angle this time.

This post is not "fluffy" and "feel-good".
It is raw and honest and blunt, in many ways,
but I want you to know that it is "spoken" in much love and from a heart that never intends to wound.
It comes from a long-time burden that is ever-present and very heavy upon my heart.

I walk into this and hit the publish button fully aware that I am veering into "controversial" and "politically-incorrect" territory here,
that this post may provoke contradictory, even ugly, comments,
and it may cost me some followers and/or subscribers....even friends.
I hope not.
Because I truly love every one of you.
You are precious to my heart.
This is one of the reasons I speak truth here.
Truth cannot be sugar-coated and should never be watered down.
Any alteration to the truth makes it less than 100% truth.
It diminishes its purity.
It taints and mars its virtue.

I have hesitated to write this post for so long.
It is one of those that God brings to mind and ignites passion about,
then I sort of slyly and sheepishly shove it on the back burner,
hoping He will overlook my disobedience to write and post it.
Because I do not ever want to come across as being judgmental or critical.
I wish I could speak this to you face to face, so you would see the concern in my eyes and hear the love in my tone.
If I could add body language to these words, you would know, deep down in your heart,
that I carry a heavy burden for the Body of Christ, that I would never intentionally hurt you or any of its members, and that I am only the messenger.

"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"
Galatians 4:16
I trust not.

As much as I would like to continue dragging my feet in discussing this, 
God let me know today that I have waited long enough.
I know how it feels to disobey Him.
I have learned, through painful, repeated experience, that no matter how hard something is that He is asking me to do, it is always, always easier than the consequences of disobedience.

So, here goes....we delve, dear friends, into the controversial subject of modesty of dress.
And we endeavor, by God's grace, to debunk a few of the myths that surround it.
I humbly ask you to please hear me out.

Myth #1:  
Modesty of dress is legalistic.

Oh, my friends, this is trickery right out of satan's play book.
This is a tactic and ploy of the enemy of our souls.
This ploy is so sly and cunning and clever, that we have fallen flat into its clutches,
and played right into his conniving hands, without even realizing what was happening.
He has used this to convince us that many God-given mandates contained in His Holy Word are unnecessary and that these mandates are, in reality, man-made, man-contrived, and man-originated demands of a legalistic nature.
Satan has managed to dupe us into believing that we don't have to "do" certain things,
because they fall under the category of legalism, when, in truth, they have nothing in the world to do with anything man-made or contrived, but are, in actuality, vital components of God's law.

In our current generation, there is is a rush to steer clear of legalism.
Rightfully, so.
I get that.
Believe me.
So many of us have felt the sting of legalism's whip for so many years of our lives,
that we are only now beginning to understand the real meaning of God's amazing grace,
as we fearfully and timidly emerge from our beaten-down spiritual places of "hiding".
But, we need to keep in mind that freedom from legalism does not give us a free pass to overlook and rebel against Biblical commands.

God's Word demands that we live a holy life.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord..."
Hebrews 12:14

Living a holy life requires a certain standard of modesty of dress.
It has nothing in the world to do with man-made legalism.
Modesty of dress is not legalistic,
as we have been so craftily tricked into believing.
Modesty is a Biblical doctrine.
I am not speaking of anything man-dictated that is without Biblical foundation,
but of the Scriptural instruction concerning the sufficient covering of our physical bodies.

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, 
with shamefacedness and sobriety."
I Timothy 2:9

I know I am old-fashioned.
I am definitely from the old school.
But, I think somewhere down the line, we have lost our "shamefacedness."
We don't feel so careful about keeping the body parts that God ordained to be preserved for intimacy
covered and out of sight while in public and around mixed company anymore.
We have become so desensitized by the bombardment of nudity around us
that we are no longer shamefaced, nor do we seem to feel the need to blush.
Even when surrounded by pastors and Christian circles,
we seem to feel no sense of conscience while dressed inappropriately.
It is hard to make anyone blush anymore.
This astounds me and burdens my heart.
It reminds me of the heaviness upon Jeremiah's heart when he said,
"Are they ashamed because they have done such shameful things?
No, they are not at all ashamed.
They do not even know how to blush!"
Jeremiah 6:15
(NET Bible)

I do not feel led to debate the never-ending spectrum of people's individual definitions of the word modest.
There are as many varying opinions on this subject as there are on every other spiritual subject, and I do not claim to possess the authority, by any means.
Oh, I could lay out a play-by-play rule book that would explain my personal God-given convictions of how He requires me to dress.
I could elaborate on how He has dealt with me, on a personal level, through the years,
and I could tell you certain items of clothing that I feel I should and should not wear,
not because of man-made legalistic "rules",
but solely based upon how the Holy Spirit has led and instructed me.
We could go into clothing types, lengths, styles, and all sorts of details.
I can tell you right now, I will NOT do this.
You will never find such a list here.
Because, I am human, fallible, hopelessly flawed, and I fall short of the glory of God,
just like, probably more than, everyone else.
I don't have, nor do I claim to have, all of the answers.
My convictions are not your convictions.
Mine are between God and me and what He requires of me,
and yours are between God and you and what He requires of you.

But, this one thing I know.
As people professing Christianity,
as people claiming to be filled with God's Spirit,
as those who say they are disciples and followers of Jesus Christ,
 we should dress in a way that we would feel comfortable should Jesus Himself walk up to us on the street.
As women professing Godliness, (I Timothy 2:10), we should cover those parts of our bodies that were given to us for intimate and maternal reasons.

Common sense tells us so, does it not?

Humor me...for just a moment...if you will.
If Jesus, Who is holiness personified, should pass you...or me....on the street....
would we feel ashamed of the way we are clothed or not-so-clothed?
Would we feel an urge to run and grab something to put on over our scant attire, 
or would be feel no shame because our "pertinent" body parts are completely and modestly covered?

If He were to sit across the table from us,
would we feel at ease
would we wish a thousand wishes we had a sweater or jacket to wrap around us
or zip over our exposed breasts?
Sorry if I am being too graphic, dear friends,
but it just really bothers me to see how comfortable we have become...
how lackadaisical, and how "sanctioned" it is for us to expose ourselves
and still maintain our Christian testimony.
What distinguishes us from the world around us when we are exposing as much flesh as they are? 
How is our standard any higher to maintain?
When did exposing cleavage become so acceptable in Christian circles?
When did it reach the point that we can walk into church services wearing clothing that would have made my Papaw's generation blush if they had seen it in a pub down the street?

Is it because the "watchmen on the wall" (Ezekiel 33) have dropped the ball and failed to sound the alarm?
The more I move in and around Christian and church circles, the more I am appalled at the looseness of standards and the lack of preaching on "issues" like modesty.
I have often felt sorry for pastors as they stand in front of congregations and look out over the crowd
trying to keep their composure and concentration in tact and their eyes above the exposed flesh in front of them.
Frankly, I don't know how they manage to keep their minds on wholesome things,
when temptation stares back at them every direction they look.
Surely, they are aware of the immodesty.
It is blatant and as much in-their-face as it is in the rest of ours.
So, why the failure to address it?
Have they become so fixated on high attendance numbers that they have convinced themselves they dare not rock the boat by preaching on "things"?
Have they forgotten that certain "things" that are mentioned in God's Word must be preached?
Are they so afraid of sounding "legalistic" that they dismiss certain passages of Scripture?

Why don't we preach about covering our bodies anymore?

Myth #2:  
God only looks on the heart; so, He doesn't care what I wear on the outside.

This is the justification I hear most often used when anything is ever brought up about modest dress.
We have convinced ourselves that God is not concerned with what we put on the outside of our bodies, because all He is interested in is what is on the inside.
The Scripture I hear most often used to justify this is I Samuel 16:7, which says,
"But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature;
because I have refused him:
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

What we need to do is to "rightly divide the Word of truth."  
(2 Timothy 2:15)

In I Samuel 16:7, God was not, in any way, shape, or form speaking of Eliab's clothing when he spoke these words to Samuel.
Samuel was searching for the man who would replace the errant King Saul as the next king of Israel.
God had shown Samuel that the next king would be found among Jesses' sons.
As Samuel sat waiting for Jesse's sons to come before him, he looked at the first son, named Eliab, and he falsely assumed, based on on his outward appearance, that he surely must be the man God had chosen to be the next king.
Evidently Eliab was tall and handsome, and it appeared that he would make the perfect political figure head.
So, based upon the assumption of his good looks and height, 
Samuel thought he had found God's man.
"And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab,
and said, surely the Lord's anointed is before Him."
I Samuel 16:6
This is when God told him, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature:
because I have refused him:
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth:  for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart."
God knew what was in Eliab's heart, and evidently He saw something there that would not be fitting to the king he had in mind to lead His chosen people.
The person He had chosen was actually a young, humble, unassuming shepherd boy named David,
who was out in the fields, tending Jesse's sheep.
David was worlds apart different from his older brother, Eliab.
In Acts 13:22, the Lord says,
"I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine Own heart,
which shall fulfill all My will."
Outwardly, Eliab was a much more likely candidate for God to choose, but since God looks upon the heart, He, in His infinite wisdom, saw what He needed inside of David.
Therefore, David was God's choice.

So, you see, this passage of Scripture truly has nothing in the world to do with how we adorn our bodies, nor should it ever be used to justify our insistence upon dressing inappropriately.

God DOES look upon the heart, but, at the same time,
He DOES indeed care about the adequate covering of our outward bodies.
Nowhere in Scripture is this more evident than in Genesis 3.
When Adam and Eve realized they had sinned in the garden of Eden, they felt ashamed.
Their feeling of this conviction and subsequent actions are explained in Genesis 3:7.
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."
They felt the need to cover hide the shame they felt from their hide the nakedness they had only then discovered.
You can imagine how scant a garment would be were it to be comprised of only sewn-together fig leaves like the ones shown in the picture below.

Photo Source

There would be gaps and holes and see-through spots, leaving little to the imagination.
When God came searching for them, He did not find their scant attire of sewn-together fig leaves adequate to cover their nakedness.
So, in Genesis 3:21, we read,
"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."
These were solid garments, thick enough to cover the body and keep it warm,
loose enough to allow for movement,
 and adequately modest.

If God didn't care how we clothe our outward bodies, 
He would have deemed the fig leaf attire sufficient and satisfactory.

Myth #3:  
Modest = frumpy.

Does dressing modestly mean I have to go out and buy the exact same clothes my Great-Granny wears?
Does my closet have to replicate hers in order for me to cover my body?
Do I have to dress like a 90 year old woman in order to please God's requirement of modesty?
I think this may be the most absurd myth in need of debunkment.  (Is that a word???)
Modesty is a thing of beauty.
It automatically paints a rare and lovely picture of true femininity and gracious womanhood.
Modesty is attractive and, because of its near obscurity in our society,
it is a breath of refreshing air to come across and discover.
Believe it or not, there are still men in our world who find a modestly-dressed woman very appealing.
There are still men who seek after a woman who is adequately covered.
There are still men who respond with great respect for a woman who will dress like a true lady,
and they are more than happy to treat her like one when she does.
There are still men who regard intimacy as sacred,
who recognize a woman as precious,
and who long to find one who values herself enough to preserve her own purity.
There are still men who do not feel the need for a woman to expose her body in public,
leaving very little to the imagination of the men she encounters.
Thank God, there are still men who prefer to not be bombarded with indecency,
and who prefer to maintain the significance and blessedness of private communion.
Now, before I go farther, I will admit that it can be difficult to find modest clothes that are age-appropriate.
No one ever said it would be easy to live Godly.
Unfortunately, clothing designers purposely create clothes that are revealing, that draw attention to intimate body parts, that are way too form-fitting and tight,
that accentuate curves, and that elicit certain response mechanisms.
Often times, even when necklines are designed to be high enough, they are cut so widely,
that they become very revealing and immodest when the person wearing them bends over.
Let's be honest.
We live in a fallen world in which immorality "sells".
It sickens me to acknowledge it, but that's just the way it is.
As hard as it is though, with a little creativity, a little extra effort, and a strong sense of determination,
we can present ourselves in an attractive, even fashionable way, that is God-pleasing modest,
AND anything but frumpy.
Again, I do not intend to lay down my personal opinions on what comprises modest apparel.
I have to follow my own God-given convictions, and you must follow yours.
According to this link, modest means this:
"having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent".
What is decent?
The Holy Spirit is our only sure Guide.
If we seek Him earnestly and diligently, with an open heart, He will make the path to holiness plain to us, not only along the lines of modesty of dress, but in every other aspect of our lives.

Myth #4:
It is my body, and I am not responsible for how others are affected by what I wear.

Is it really? 
My body?
If I am a Christian, am I really my own any longer?

"What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
for ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
I Corinthians 6:19, 20

I am not insinuating that ANY inappropriate behavior or violation of privacy is EVER excusable,
under any circumstances, nor should it ever be justified or blamed upon another,
regardless of what they were wearing or doing beforehand.
Nor am I saying that we can control what goes on in the minds of others.

"So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God."
Romans 14:12

What I am saying is that, as Christian women, we should be mindful.
We should dress and conduct ourselves in a way that is Jesus-honoring and God-glorifying.
To willfully expose our bodies in an immodest and indecent manner
is to open the door to lust and temptation and to elicit spiritual battles in the minds of others.

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more:
but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
Romans 14:13

Our husbands, sons, fathers, pastors, and Christian brothers are bombarded with undress and seduction in all other parts of the world around us....
billboards, check-out line magazine covers, television and internet commercials and programming,
never mind their daily and continual personal interactions.
They should, in us, find a reprieve and an example of holiness and purity, should they not?

Myth #5:
It is too hot and uncomfortable to dress modestly.

It amazes me how we have convinced ourselves that there is no cross involved in following Jesus.
Did He ever promise it would be an easy path to follow in His footsteps?
His actual words were these...
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,
and follow Me."
Luke 9:23
I am not saying that we should adopt a "poor, pitiful me", martyr-like mindset,
walking through life in misery, continually bemoaning the heaviness of our cross.
But, there are certain non-negotiables that are important in our Christian walk,
and many of them are going to involve the denying of our flesh and our own fleshly desires.
Covering our bodies sufficiently and modestly is one of those non-negotiables.
Jesus never promised that our lives would be comfortable,
nor did He tell us to do what feels good or what is easiest.
He told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and to follow Him.
Following Jesus' example will often require us to do the exact opposite of the world around us.
To "go with the flow" and blend in with the masses seldom involves bearing a cross,
and taking the path of least resistance rarely mimics the actions of our Lord.

Modest dress is important to God.
It should be important enough to us to do what we need to do to remain covered,
regardless of how uncomfortable and/or unpopular it causes us to be.
God always honors obedience and provides necessary grace to follow His will.
"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Modesty matters, my dear friends.
What we do, and yes, what we wear, matters.
I realize this has become a "hot-button" issue and topic, even among Christian circles.
It is not something people seem to want to hear or something preachers want to discuss.
Regardless of what we do or do not want to hear and/or discuss,
modesty is still a Bible command.
It is not, nor will it ever be, legalism.
It is still a vital part of God's perfect plan for morality and decency.
God's rulebook for holiness will always remain the same,
no matter how the world around us diminishes or adjusts its ethical gauge and criterion.
The decline in the moral standards of our nation is appalling.
I can't help but believe that the relaxation of modesty guidelines and principles
is at least, in part, responsible for that downturn.
How refreshing it would be to see a modesty revival among Christian ranks!
How blessed it would be for each of us to seek the Lord's face diligently and sincerely,
asking Him to lead us in this area, then for us to show the way to others.

"Ye are the light of the world.
A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
Matthew 5:14

We are to lead and be strong, not to follow and go along.

How wonderful to know that if we have erred,
we have an Advocate and a God Who is ready to forgive!

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous:
and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours only
but also for the sins of the whole world."
I John 2:1,2

"For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive;
and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee."
Psalm 86:5

Thank you so much for hearing me out, for reading all the way to the end of this very heavy,
long-winded post, and for your prayerful consideration of the burden God has laid upon my heart.

Written with much love from my heart to yours,

Friday, April 10, 2015

Good-bye, Lauren Hill

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants."
Psalm 116:15

The Lord's faithful servant received her perfect healing today,
as God called her home to rest forever close to His heart.

Lauren Hill (1995-2015)

Have tissues handy before watching THIS VIDEO.

Bless her dear heart.
Lauren left a permanent, unforgettable mark of kindness upon our world.
Even in her darkest days, her mind was tirelessly upon others who are suffering.
She gave until she could literally give no more.
Such a dear, precious, sweet girl.

Lauren has run her race and finished her course, leaving behind memories of a selfless life.
Only the dear Lord will ever know the full extent of the reach of her influence and positive spirit.

My heart breaks as I think of her dear parents, siblings, 
and all who grieve today and mourn her passing.
May the God of all comfort hold them extra close and somehow make them see how much they are loved and supported during the difficult days that lie ahead.

Let us pray hard for Lauren's family and loved ones and all who were touched by her passing.

Good-bye, dear Lauren.
You left this world a place.
We will forever cherish your memory in our hearts.

To read more about Lauren's story and previous posts about her, click the links below.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Thank You, Jesus!

"He is not here, but is risen:  remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee,
Saying, the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified,
and the third day rise again."
Luke 24:6,7

Photo by Priscilla Cooper

I have been so abundantly blessed.
I grew up in a Christian home with two Godly parents who loved Jesus with all their hearts.
I cannot remember ever living through an Easter Sunday that His death and resurrection
were not first and foremost in my heart and mind.

You would think after hearing "the old, old story of Jesus and His Love" for 48 years of life,
it would somehow have lost some of its interest, appeal, and ability to draw me in.
But, I can honestly agree with every one of these precious words
penned by Katherine Hankey in 1866.

"I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love,
I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems,
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams,
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me,
And that is just the reason, I tell it now to thee.

I love to tell the story, 'tis pleasant to repeat,
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet,
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard,
The message of salvation, from God's Own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best,
Seem hungering and thirsting, to hear it like the rest,
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
'Twill be the old, old story, that I have loved so long."

It's true, dear friends.
Those who know it best, "seem hungering and thirsting, to hear it like the rest".
The story of Jesus never grows old.

The more I hear about Jesus, the more I delve into His precious word,
the more I learn of Him, the better acquainted I become with Him, the longer I walk with Him.....
the more I love Him, long to know Him better,
and want to be with Him and serve Him in every possible way I can.

I can say from the heart that in all of my years of life, I have never loved Him more than I do right Easter.
I wish the whole world could understand Who He is and what He did.
If we could all truly absorb that truth, there would be no despair.
For what Jesus did on that blessed resurrection morning brought about a hope that is eternal.
No matter what.

I love the coupling of "The Revelation Song", sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean,
along with several very moving scenes from the Passion depicted in this video.
Please take a few minutes to watch and listen.
Have tissues handy, as you will need them.
I have seen this so many times, and it never fails to move me to tears.

If video doesn't load, click here.

I am SO deeply sorry that my sins caused Him to go through the awful things He had to endure.

Thank you, Jesus, for all You did...and still do for us,
for the anguish You bore, and the price You paid for our redemption.
Thank You...from the bottom of my heart...for dying on that old, rugged cross,
and for conquering death on that third day and for coming out of that tomb!
Without You, we would be lost...without hope....destined for an eternity in Hell.
You took our place.
You are our Savior...our only path to God.

Today, for very personal reasons, this Easter, 
is more special than any of the Easters I have yet spent.

To God be the glory forever and ever.

Wishing all of you a most wonderful and blessed Resurrection Day!