Are Your Kids Modest?

I read Michael Hyatt‘s blog, “Whatever Happened to Modesty” and liked the suggestions he gave his daughters to aid their understanding while growing up:

Here they are: “Four Guidelines for Modesty”:teens

  1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
  2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
  3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
  4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

Michael’s guidelines are very practical and I am glad he shared them. He asked for comments of what people might say to their kids and my mind went straight to asking about the motivation behind modesty. These were my immediate thoughts:

  • Sexuality is an amazing part of God’s creation. Treasure it, don’t squander it, for it is an analogy of God’s attraction to us and our deepest-being’s desire for Him.
  • In this world a woman’s body sings and the men around her hear that song, usually whether they want to or not. God’s eye is ever on us, longing that we would open our hearts to Him and learn to share His desires.
  • The younger men seem to be affected by the woman’s song more strongly than the older men. The less modest the clothes, the more the tone of the song tends toward seduction, whether the woman realizes it or not.
  • If the body is the bait, what are you fishing for? Sex or your one true love? What do you want your one true love to know you for, your body or your heart?
  • What age do you think you will be ready to marry? Don’t advertise something that is not available.
  • Focus your sexuality on your spouse, whether you have met them or not. If not, then wait for them, keeping and caring for your body as a sacred trust for them.
  • You are not your own, you belong to your spouse. Act like it.

What do you think? Are your kids modest? What should we teach our kids about modesty in this age?

 

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Commanding Heaven onto Earth

I have heard a teaching going around that says: All ministry flows from the prayer, “Thy kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven.”

I believe this teaching is called Dominionism. The adherents claim God has given us power and authority to take the world by spiritual force and this verse is Jesus teaching our ability to command. 

The verse they quoted, why are they leaving out the words in the center and changing the phrase? Remember Matthew 6 and Luke 11: ​”Your kingdom come. ​Your will be done ​on earth as it is in heaven.”

  • Why leave out “Your will be done”?
  • Why change Jesus’ prayer from submissively asking for “God’s kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven” to commanding “His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven”?
  • Why change the words of Jesus? If twisting the words of Jesus is not anti-Christ, what is?
  • Why ask for the kingdom and eliminate asking for Father God’s will to come with it?
  • Having the kingdom without having God’s will would be a kingdom ruled by whom?
  • The kingdom in heaven ruled without God’s will is Satan’s organization.
  • Who would teach people to pray this way? Not God, only the enemy.

Remember Jesus did empower our prayers (John 14-16 several times):

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

If we think this is to fulfill our desires then we misunderstand what Jesus meant. Remember James said, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Think of a ten year old boy asking for a flame-thrower and machine gun, or a 16 year old asking for a crotch-rocket motorcycle: the father should say no for both the child’s good and everyone else’s good!

We must see Jesus empowering our prayers for the express purpose of fulfilling Father God’s desires, and Jesus’ desires, to bring glory to the Father and the Son, which often comes through our suffering, even as it came through Jesus’ suffering—we must bear the cross, not command it away.

Jesus immediately followed these empowering statements with: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (v15). And His commandments are to love God, each other, the world, and even our enemies. There is not much room for selfishness, rather prayer becomes our joining with God to fulfill God’s desires to build the Body of Christ and prepare the Bride of Christ.

We know the line “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” is taken from the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray. If we are to understand this as Jesus teaching us to pray authoritatively—as adherents to Dominionism teach—then it means the Lord’s Prayer would be prayed as us commanding God, sounding something like this:

“Holy Father in heaven, I command You to make Your kingdom come onto earth, as it already is in heaven. I command You to give us our daily bread. I command You to provide our food for today. I command You to forgive my sin, because I have forgiven those indebted to me. I command You to lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.”

I shudder to write and read this! We know we cannot command God to do anything, because that would make us sovereign over Him, and that is horrifically wrong.

We further remember the context of Jesus’ teaching on prayer is Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, which is about character development, not exercising authority to command.

Jesus’ teaching on prayer demonstrated submission to God, our Father Who is in heaven, recognizing and declaring His holiness, submitting to His system of government, committing to follow Him here on this corrupt earth now even as all of heaven does, asking for today’s needs, asking for forgiveness of sin with proof of His principles at work within us as we have already been forgiving others, asking for cleansing, ending with recognition of His eternal kingdom, power, and glory. 

Be wary of people teaching you to command heaven onto earth. 

Jesus does not force us to love Him, He invites. In the same way a man does not (cannot) force a woman to love him. The woman has to respond to the man’s invitation, line up with the man, and the two become one. Similarly, a woman cannot force a man to love her. She can but request. 

We cannot force heaven to come to earth. We can but line up with God, become one with Him, and see what He does. 

Don’t Boil Goats

A 2 month old goat kid in a field of capeweed

“Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.” Exodus 23:19b KJV. Translate to modern English: Do not boil a baby goat in its mother’s milk.

What? Why does God command this?

This command is the last phrase God gives in the moral Law–the ten commandments and its unpacking–which is still God’s instruction for our morality and ethics (the moral Law is entirely separate from the ceremonial and sacrificial law which in its attempt at atonement foretold, and finally was replaced by, Jesus’ sacrificial death).

The Jews took this command as instruction to keep dairy and meat separate, and voila we have the basis of kosher law. If it were that important to keep dairy and meat separate, I think God would have made it more explicit.

What was God communicating to the Hebrews, and now to us, with this phrase as the final proclamation of the moral Law?

What if this verse is a proverb, a saying, perhaps even common in the day? What principle does it teach? What is God saying by giving the moral Law and finishing off with this proverb?

If you boil a baby goat in his mother’s milk, what do you get? A dead baby goat. To get an adult goat the milk is applied inside the baby goat, not outside.

Was boiling in milk a cleaning method? Apply a life-substance externally with heat … you might get a very clean baby goat, but it’s still going to be dead.

What if the point is not what you get, but what you do not get? And what do we not get?

You do not get an adult goat.

You do not get a lamb.

You cannot apply life-substance and heat to a baby goat to clean it up into being a lamb. Remember Jesus’ parable of judgment day and separating the sheep from the goats–we want to be the sheep welcomed into heaven, not the goats condemned to hell.

I think this is the essence of what God is saying: “I give you My moral Law, now take it into your hearts and be changed–grow up into My character, be like Me. Application on the outside is not going to work, it must be on the inside. I want to change you from goats to sheep, and here is my moral Law to help you understand the goal. But it has to be an internal change, not an external clean-up. Take My words to heart.”

And yet we cannot do it. We are incapable. Our best efforts result in self-righteous Pharisee-ism.

So comes the rest of God’s message: “And struggle with this impossible task, for you cannot keep My Law. You cannot become like Me in your own efforts. You will fall short. And that is the point. You must see that only I can change you from being goats to being sheep. You must see your need for a Savior. So see your need, and come to Me and ask My help. For I am the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. I came into the world, kept the moral Law living perfectly, and died for your sin, thus providing the way of salvation, enabling you to be like Me. If you ask I will give you atonement and justification, impute righteousness to you and sanctify you. Come to Me, and I will give you rest.”

That’s what I’m getting out of it. How about you?

Who knew God would summarize the entire gospel message with, “Don’t boil goats in their mother’s milk”?!

Beautiful Judgment

I drive America’s highways looking at the beautiful plains, hills, mountains, deserts, forests, rivers, lakes, and oceans. It struck me that everything I see was sculpted by water, by a lot of water; it was all underwater and formed by lots of moving water. It is all evidence of the Flood.

The Flood was God’s judgment on a world full of sin–He was sorry He made mankind on the Earth (Genesis 6:6). God caused the fountains of the deep to open and rain to fall, and the world was changed forever.  

Every day we see the evidence of God’s judgment, but we do not comprehend. We live in the wake of His judgment without thought of the patterns around us.

And then I made the connection: His judgment is beautiful! He is beautiful, His works are beautiful, His judgment is beautiful.

We need to hunger for His heart, His character, His word, His morality, His rule, His kingdom, and His judgment. In that mode we can be salt and light.

Have you noticed His beautiful judgment lately? Do you enjoy His beautiful judgment? Have you thanked Him for His beautiful judgment lately? Have you asked Him to judge your heart now, while you have time to change and grow? Limited time offer: today is the day of salvation. This era will end, His final judgment will crack down and our eternities will be decided.

Run to His beautiful judgment now, while there is still grace and mercy available at the cross of Christ Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” All history revolves around this one perfect man–Jesus. Run to Him and receive eternal life, then pass the word! 

Are You a Complete Man for an Outstanding Marriage?

What makes a man a real, true, complete man? Answer: Devoted obedience to God’s heart.

Consider the man who was:

 

 

  • son of a powerful,
    leading citizen
  • respected in his youth
  • chosen by God to save the people from their enemies
  • chosen as king by the people with approval from the religious authority
  • given a new heart by God
  • operated in the prophetic gifting
  • served by a group of men sent by God
  • victorious in battle

 

Yet for all this he lacked full obedience to God and devotion to God’s heart. So God told King Saul that the kingdom would pass to another (1 Samuel 9-13).

Relating this to marriage, every man is king in his home. To be truly successful in marriage a man must obey God and seek God’s heart.

It’s not enough to have rich parents, have a great past, be chosen by God, be chosen for leadership by people and even religious authorities, be given a new heart by God, operate in spiritual gifts, have God-given followers, and be successful in your endeavors.

Not only is it not enough, it is not even necessary.

What is necessary is you must obey God and seek His heart.

Obeying God and finding God’s heart transforms a man’s desires, attitudes, and viewpoints, and increasingly conforms his heart to God’s heart. This is key to a successful marriage.

It teaches and motivates a man to love his wife as Christ loves the Church: laying down his life for her, washing her with the Word of God that she would be transformed into the real, true, complete woman God desires her to be and enabling them to increasingly unify their lives, to become the one flesh God designed marriage to be. 

Of course she is also responsible to connect with God’s heart, but that’s another story.

Real men obey God and seek His heart, and are transformed in the process with one result being outstanding marriages.

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Have You Ever Sweat Blood?

My son sweated blood. This gave me an insight into the suffering of Jesus in Gethsemane. I will tell you about the event and the insight.

The Event

My son lied to me about hitting his sister.

Once we discussed the situation and he finally confessed the truth, he was faced with righting the wrongs.

As a four year old he wrestled with what the standard is, his deviation from the standard, and what it took to make things right. 

When he came through it I looked at his face and saw he had sweated blood.

He literally sweated blood.

The situation was so intense for him the capillaries in his facial sweat glands broke and a tiny bit of blood came through (medical book explanation). Not enough to run down his face, it was just enough to color the pores. And you had to look close to even realize it. Two days later his skin was back to normal.

The Insight

Have you ever sweat blood? I have not. I have been through some extreme things, dreading suffering, close to death, and my facial pores stayed free of blood.

I think it was the weight in soul and spirit that caused my son to sweat blood. And that was a tiny glimpse of what Jesus suffered in Gethsemane.

Jesus as fully God and fully man, with no sin, knew God’s standards, took our sin on His being, and knowing every detail of His coming suffering He faced the most cruel, torturous death devised: beating and crucifixion. Under that agony He sweated blood. Which makes the skin more sensitive.

He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. Instead they put Him through a mockery of a fake trial. They ripped His beard out. They masked His eyes and punched Him. They beat Him till His bones showed through His broken skin. They smashed a crown of thorns onto His head. They nailed through the nerve centers of His wrists, excruciating, to a beam that was raised up and fastened to an upright post so all His weight was on those nails, excruciating. His feet were nailed to the upright post, excruciating. It is very difficult to breathe in that position.

Crucifixion produced pain so intense, so beyond anything else, they had to come up with a new word for it: excruciating, meaning “out of the cross.” Your weight hanging on a nail through the nerve center of your wrist is excruciating. Think twice before using that word for lesser pains.

And He did it all having sweated blood which makes the skin more sensitive.

It is hard to know whether the blood loss or asphyxiation killed Jesus. Either way His heart’s response was to increase the beats per minute shortly before the end, which signaled Him to say, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

The Roman soldiers, experts at killing people in painful ways to intimidate cities and nations into obedience, were surprised that Jesus died before the two others crucified that day. One stabbed Jesus with a spear, which released blood … and water! The water was from the lungs and/or heart lining, the accumulation being an aspect of death and the release conclusive proof that Jesus died.

(For more details I recommend “The Case for Easter” by investigative journalist Lee Strobel and the excellent resources he references.)

My point is Jesus knew beforehand in Gethsemane all the details of the suffering He was about to undergo. Combine that detailed knowledge of pain with the full knowledge of the standards of God and with bearing the sin of the world. That agony was so intense Jesus, the perfect Man, asked Father God if there was another way. There was not.

The weight and anguish of it caused Jesus to sweat blood.

Jesus submitted to the process, took our sin and bore it on the cross.

In my description of Jesus’ suffering I said “they” did it to Him. But it was our sin that did it to him, yours and mine. Without our sin there would have been no reason for Jesus to have gone through that experience. He took our place. He took our sin. He went to the cross.

He sweated blood, He shed blood, He died in your place that you might go free.

Will you follow Him? Will you love Him?

Will you love Him enough to resist sin to the point of shedding your own blood in the struggle? To sweat blood?

Will you love your spouse enough to resist sin to the point of shedding your own blood in the struggle? To sweat blood?

Cherishing Jesus the Baby, Jesus the Man

This being the Christmas season, I was inspired to think about Jesus when He was a baby. I read the gospel accounts.

It hit me that Mary’s response to the angel’s news she would bear Jesus was not, “Yes, I am about to be married and thank you for telling me my husband and I will have a son.” No, Mary understood the angel meant immediately, so asked, “How could this be, I have not had physical intimacy with a man?”

The answer of course is that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and work the miracle of God becoming man, of God stepping into His creation to experience it “from the inside” as it were. It is not enough to create mankind, God had to experience it!

That got me thinking. A while back I wrote a short story on the conceptual beginning of mankind, when God sat around and thought us up. I posted it in this blog as the menu page “God’s Desire.”

I realized there is a scene I could add in the planning session of Jesus getting a twinkle in His eye and saying They should not only create mankind, but that He could enter into history as a man. Not the first one. No, it would be better to long foretell of His coming, get the people desiring His coming, let the anticipation build to a fever pitch, and then surprise everyone by showing up in a very normal way, specially announced of course.

And here we see Jesus in the gospels, a baby, lying in a manger. Fully God become also fully man. Without sin. Desiring to be held, cherished, protected, joyed-over, fed, cleaned, raised, and loved. Truly Mary was blessed among women, to be the one who held Jesus, cherished Him, joyed-over Him, fed Him (nursing God?!), raised Him, and loved Him.

And it hit me. He desires that we would protect Him. He desires that we would cherish Him enough to protect Him. And that is when I got a glimpse of what holiness is. Just an angle. And here it is: one angle of holiness is love. A love that cherishes and protects. A love that sweeps away sin and death and destruction to protect the baby in your arms.

One description, one angle of His love for us is as a mother holding a new baby in her arms. He cherishes us, sweeping away sin and death and destruction to protect us.

And He wants us to do the same for Him! Even as a mother is transformed by the baby in her arms, He wants us to be transformed and sweep away our sin, deny death and destruction, out of love for Him.

We cannot do it in our own will. Many have made themselves agonizingly miserable trying. It is by grace, not works, lest any man would boast. In love there is no room for pride. He must give us the grace to be able to do it; we must open up to Him to receive the grace.

Thus He came to give us life, and life more abundantly. He came as a baby desiring to be loved and grew into the perfect sinless man desiring to be loved, and because we could not love Him how He wants He came to be the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. Thus He endured the cross, despising its shame, for the joy set before Him! The joy of those who say, “I love You, Jesus!” The joy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The joy of the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.

Jesus came for the joy set before Him. The joy of you saying to Him, “I love You, Jesus!”

Love produces obedience. Faith produces works. Do you love Jesus as a mother does her baby, enough to cherish Him? Enough to let Him cleanse you of sin and death and destruction to properly love Him? Enough to join Him seated at the right hand of the Father, having your priorities changed to see things from the Father’s eternal view and be motivated by the Father’s heart? Enough to say, “My corrupt nature must die because Jesus should not be touched by sin. I will pick up my cross, die daily, and follow You, Jesus, because You are worthy of the best I can give, the best I can be!”

And He will joy over you, laugh with utter delight, and with a twinkle in His eye draw you deeper into His heart, into depths of love and holiness and glory we do not yet know exist! Because there is no sin there. We start the process now to get rid of sin, and He is faithful to complete the process.

Do you love Him enough to model Christ and the Bride? Husband, love your wife as Christ loves the Church, His Bride; He gave His life for her. Wife, reverence your husband as you do Christ. Your spouse is the first place where the rubber meets the road and you will either follow Jesus’ example or not. Do it! It is worth it! Jesus is worthy!

May the love of Jesus overwhelm you this Christmas! May you truly cherish Him! May your life be transformed by His love! May your marriage bloom with His love!

What Marriage Can Teach You About Eternity

I see marriage as the central concept of relationships and our classroom for what is to come. In Genesis God gave us the concept of marriage and in Revelation John was given a glimpse of the future fulfillment: “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.”

Created by Phil Scoville on June 25, 2005 Down...

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What does the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) with the Bride (those whose names are written in the Book of Life) mean for eternity? I believe God has given us the concept and training ground of marriage to teach us just that.

I am puzzled as to what the Bride’s marriage to Jesus for eternity means physically. But I am not puzzled in the areas of spirit and soul. Our relationship with our spouse in spirit and soul, with sin eliminated and true holiness increased, is the same mode and content as our relationship with Jesus. The best relationship skills we learn in earthly marriage with our spouse have direct application to the coming eternal marriage with Jesus.

Here is what I mean: In spirit and soul, in the midst of loving, intimate vulnerability the Bride surrenders to the Groom’s ministrations which produce joy and delight at times building to ecstasy, and in the right times the Groom plants the seed of a new work in the Bride.

The fruit of the commitment to live together as one and of loving intimacy, this new work, grows and changes the Bride and Groom’s life. Anticipation of what the new work will be like produces wonderful changes. When the new work has gestated long enough it is brought forth which is itself an amazing process which ends in extreme, deep joy!

Bride and Groom nurture this new work, pouring themselves into it, reveling in the joy of the journey with all the new developments.

This is the spirit and soul of marriage. The physical pictures this description bring to mind merely shows how the spirit, soul, and physical are intertwined.

So what can we learn about eternity from marriage? It is good! It is the epitome of what you are practicing now: getting to know Jesus, eliminating sin, and increasing in true holiness.

Unless of course you are not getting to know Jesus, are not eliminating sin, are not increasing true holiness, then eternity will be the epitome of what you are practicing in your marriage now: eternal suffering in the lake of fire.

How are you improving your marriage? How are you eliminating sin? How are you increasing in true holiness? How are you preparing for eternity with Jesus? Or are you?

How to Handle a Spiritual Nut

What do you do when someone tells you they had a spiritual experience that changed their life?

In “Till We Have Faces” CS Lewis, an Oxford Don around WWII, examines this very issue. He set the book in Greek mythology (not for the sensitive soul) to examine what to do when a most beloved sister claims to have had an enriching and life changing spiritual experience.

Parthenon detail replica

Image by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) via Flickr

Lewis portrayed what NOT to do, namely to attempt to convince your loved one their spiritual experience was “just in their mind” for in the end you may destroy them and find they did have a spiritual experience.

Gamaliel, one of the most respected Jewish teachers almost 2000 years ago who mentored the Apostle Paul, was also faced with this question.

The Jewish Council, on which he had a prominent seat, was faced with a group of men who joyously proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus with the resulting message of Father God’s love and salvation through Jesus. The Council wanted to kill these men for proclaiming a spiritual experience different from their own.

Gamaliel advised the Council to leave the men alone, for if their experience was of natural origin it would fade to nothing, but if their experience was of supernatural origin they would be fighting against God.

Advice from an Oxford don and a Jewish elder: do not harass them about it. They did experience something. Time will tell whether it was natural or supernatural. And you should seek to benefit from what God is doing rather than fight against it.

Regardless of how outrageous it may sound, be patient, love them, offer truth and wisdom, let them process their experience, and see what you can learn.

Francis of Assisi

Image by gwilmore via Flickr

What truth and wisdom can you offer? Here is the touchstone to examine all supernatural experiences: where is Jesus in their experience? Are they drawn closer to or driven further away from Father God, Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our Faith, and Holy Spirit our Councilor? Are they drawn into deeper dependence on God or are they becoming more self-centered? Is it resulting in humility or pride?

If God and supernatural experiences are not part of your life, invite God into your life and find out how amazing He is!

Recommended reading: “Practicing the Presence” by Brother Lawrence and a biography of St Francis of Assisi. These are on the “Too Good to Miss” list.

The Meaning of Life

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. How? The danger is to focus on actions to reform our identity. God reforms our identity to result in the actions. What identity is God perfecting us toward?

Revelation says we are marching on this timeline toward the ultimate bottleneck: the great white throne judgment. Jesus is the only way to the Father and those who have rejected Jesus will be thrown into the lake of fire and those who have accepted Jesus will be welcomed. It is our choice as to which we are: alive with Jesus or dead without Him.

The great white throne judgment is when God makes our individual choices official and final for eternity. I anticipate He who is love will anguish over each one who eternally rejects His offer of love and life and chooses death.

After finalizing our choice for eternity and directing the dead to their reward of eternal fires, God welcomes the alive to the marriage supper of the Lamb (aka Jesus, the sacrificial lamb slain to redeem us from our sin).

And here is the glimpse of the meaning of life. As Genesis records, God established marriage as an important concept. In Revelation that concept is fulfilled in the marriage of Jesus to the Bride.

Pairs

From Genesis to Revelation the concept of marriage is addressed from many angles. In Ephesians Paul identifies the Bride of Christ as the Body of Christ. In Revelation John wrote what he saw: the Bride of Christ identified as the people who inhabit the New Jerusalem who are in turn identified as those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Therefore I state the meaning of life is to become the Bride of Christ and spend eternity with the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in whatever state He means and is describing with the concept of marriage.

We practice marriage now; what does it mean for eternity? What are we supposed to be learning from marriage?