Character


Your Elders recently received the following note:

There has been something on my heart for a while, and I haven’t been sure about the best way to address it- so I will submit it to you and trust that the Lord will lead you to handle it as it should be handled.

Today at work, an email went out that stirred me to write you. It was an email regarding appropriate dress for the workplace. We have a handful of ladies around the office who tend to dress rather inappropriately- and it can create a tough work environment sometimes. Ladies can feel embarrassed and undervalued in the presence of these women, and I would guess the men here at the office either find themselves uncomfortable or distracted. The email did not go into detail about why certain manners of dress are inappropriate- it was pretty obvious. Around the office, we need to treat each other with respect and professionalism.

Even more should the concept of respect apply within the fellowship of believers. I have worked with groups of young women in the past and made it a point to address the issue of modesty within them.  My teaching has focused on the practical – what to avoid – but also on the deeper issues of the heart behind why they should avoid it.  I occasionally had to pull a girl or two aside and remind them of how important it is to help our Brothers in Christ stay pure in a sexually saturated culture.

However, the dress issue has not been confined to the youth group; I have noticed a number of adult women in the Body who tend to dress inappropriately from time to time.

I believe that there are two possible motives in the hearts of the Sisters I’ve noticed dressing this way. One motive is that the outfit was selected for its fashion appeal and flattering design. The other, and I believe the more prominent motive, is that the wearer is an extremely busy woman, most likely a mother, and the blouse with the V-neckline was most easily accessible in the busy course of her morning.

In either case, we ladies must be challenged about this. We must remember that if we are doing our job as a church, we are going to be surrounded by people who are at different stages in their walk with the Lord. A father of four may think nothing of the V-neckline. But the odds are that someone at the church will find himself struggling against it or lead into lust by it. This battle is everywhere for our men and boys. The Body of Christ should be a respite from this fight, not another battle ground.

Are we women were too busy or too concerned with our appearance to come along side our fathers, brothers and sons to help provide a safe place for them to relax and just enjoy the fellowship of believers? Maybe we just haven’t thought of it that way. Maybe it’s time to start.

What a blessed woman!  Her note reflects grace, practicality, and a deep love for her brothers and sisters.  About 9 minutes after receiving her note via email, another arrived from Focus on the Family.  The introduction is as follows:

American girls are increasingly being fed a steady diet of products and images that pressure them to be sexy. From clothing to cartoons, choreography to commercials, the emphasis on sexuality undercuts parents’ efforts to instill purity in their daughters.

The article goes on to describe the fashion trends that our daughters find themselves surrounded by these days and encourages parents in ways to keep their daughters safe.  If you would like to read the rest of the article, the link is here: Sexy Too Soon.

This morning I checked out the new Resurgence web site and saw that they posted (on Thursday) a great article titled Why What You Wear Matters.  Check it out – it’s good, short, practical read.

It is certainly coincidental that all these crossed my path around the same time.  Can I share just a little more?

On Tuesday I had to fire a man (“Frank”) at work.  In short, we determined that Frank was posting his former boss’ phone number on various bathroom walls and (most despicably) on a wall in a “viewing booth” in an adult bookstore.  She was receiving lewd calls at all hours of the day/night.  It got really bad when her 11-year-old daughter was propositioned by one caller.

When I confronted Frank, he lied about his involvement, saying he does not go to adult bookstores.  And why would we not believe him?  Frank is an associate pastor at his church, after all.  He is well known as being a kind, prayerful, and compassionate man.  Sadly, when confronted with irrefutable proof, Frank admitted that he frequents the bookstore where his former boss’ number was posted.

In the note that we received, the writer said, “A father of four may thing nothing of the V neckline.”  That is my only point of disagreement with her.  Yes, a particular father of 4 might not, but I believe most men have eyes like magnets that easily find & lock on to an attractive, sexy woman.  Even in church.  Maybe especially at church.  A godly woman exudes something attractive that is not physical, but draws men in nonetheless.

You may consider this semi-confessional.  I do not find myself leering at women in church (often), but I would rather be completely honest than create a false image that causes others to suspect me impossible of sins such as Frank’s.  Frank is in bondage, and he didn’t get there by asking brothers to pray for him.  I struggle here.  I suspect most of us do.

At work, where the struggle is strongest, and where we have many attractive women who know they are attractive, and use their appearance to manipulate men, I have written on my whiteboard a very short statement: “he does not know that it will cost him his life.” You will recognize it as part of Proverbs 7:23.  I was looking at it yesterday, not long after a woman left my office; a woman whose shirt buttons strained to contain her…(yes, I noticed)

I will not repeat the oft-stated point that men are visual creatures.  Got it.  Agreed.  But something in our culture is changing.  A lot of recent research is finding that women are becoming trapped in addiction to pornography.  It might not surprise you that upwards of 70% of men are looking at porn online, but are you shocked that research shows that around a third of those visiting pornographic web sites are women?

The implication here is simply this: women can do us a favor by covering up.  But guys, we gotta help our sisters too.  I’m not actually sure here what women would find sexy in a guy…it’s apparently not the same thing we see in them.  But ask your wife if you look appropriate for church.  My wife tells me to button one more button from time to time.  If you are not married, ask a trusted female friend with a male friend present.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.   -Matthew 28:16-17

I slept alone last night.  Peacefully, quietly alone.  My doctor ordered a sleep study for me so, for a couple thousand dollars, I had a very restful night with a bunch of electrodes attached to my head.

One of the last things I remember before drifting off was the fact that the room was very dark, an inky black darkness like being immersed in swamp water.  This was not a darkness that your eyes could get used to; no, I was trapped in a pool of nothingness with no up or down, and no point of reference to tell me where I was.  A few times I woke up utterly lost.

Darkness is a great metaphor to illustrate lostness.  From the time we are small we fear what we do not know, what lurks, or could be lurking, under the cover of darkness.  Evil is expected to strike in the darkness.  How else can we explain the extra outrage we experience when a crime is committed “in broad daylight”?

Truth be told, I wasn’t really afraid of the darkness last night because I knew that Fred was doing his job well.  He had a camera and was watching me (yeah, it could have creeped me out, but Fred seemed a pretty decent fellow) and if I had a question, Fred was quick to respond.

Let me tell you about the darkness that I do fear.  Picture yourself running in a marathon.  You’ve run 23, 24 miles or so, and you begin to notice other runners by the road, exhausted, giving up.  Even at the 26 mile marker you find a man sitting by the roadside, head in hands, weeping.  He’s 365 yards from the finish line and he simply cannot make it any farther.

These ran the race in vain.  It was all for nothing.

It is said that faith and fear are at opposite ends of a continuum.  In the text quoted, we have no clear perspective on the doubting.  We only know that some of the disciples “doubted”.  Were they of the 11 disciples?  The larger group of disciples?  Did their doubt persist?  I mean, seriously, these people saw Jesus after His resurrection and still doubted…something.  How was that possible?

I think, brothers, that it simply is God’s way of reminding us that we are not perfect.  We may charge forward in faith, thinking we are doing God a favor by claiming great things for Him, but no matter how hard we try to deny it, our faith is not 100% perfect.

If it was impossible to fail to finish the race, there would be no glory in crossing the line.

Soli Deo Gloria

Almighty God became incarnate – took on human flesh – and came and lived among us, submitting Him self to us, suffering at the hands of humans, and dying for the sins of those He would choose to be His children.

That’s humility.

Consider now the universe that He created by the power of His word, and which is held together by Him, this God-Man.

H/T: Justin Taylor

by Russell Moore

There’s a reason the “Cousin Eddie” character in the movie National Lampoon Christmas Vacation resonates with so many. We’ve all got a Cousin Eddie, or two, in our extended families. Some of us are Cousin Eddie. Our families weren’t designed for a televised Christmas special.

And despite the idyllic picture in Christmas cards and carol lyrics, human depravity doesn’t go (more…)

by Carl Trueman

Some weeks ago a friend forwarded me a link to the blog of an American Christian academic.  Now, at the risk of protesting too much, I must stress that I don’t read blogs – I really don’t read blogs – unless, that is, they are sent to me by someone else. Sufficient to my own life is the tedium and banality contained therein; I really have no interest in compounding such with the tedium and banality contained in the lives of other people.

This blog, however, caught my eye, not so much for the specific post to which I had been referred, but because, as I glanced in boredom at (more…)

by Mark Driscoll

(Part 2 of 5)

This is the second in a five-part series. The first post can be found here.

Four Ways to Change Your Life

  1. Heart change – conviction from God and (more…)

[Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle recently posted a five part series on Silence and Solitude.  I hope & pray you will allow the Lord to use it to help you grow deeper in your walk with Jesus.  If you would like to learn more about Pastor Mark or Mars Hill Church, visit their website at www.marshillchurch.org]

by Mark Driscoll

(Part 1 of 5)

I am an introvert who is contemplative. This means I crave and desperately need silence, solitude, study, prayer, and journaling because the Holy Spirit uses these moments to connect me to Jesus that I might be more like him. For those like me, organizing days for silence and solitude may come rather naturally. But for those who are extroverted and active, the people and tasks in their mind and life can keep them from having regular and productive times to fast from noise and people and to hear from God, speak to God, and be with God.

So, this blog is the first in a series that will help you organize a silence and solitude day. The series of blogs will culminate in a lengthy template I use to organize my own silence and solitude days. I shared this document with the Mars Hill staff and so many friends on Facebook and Twitter asked for it after hearing about it that I decided to write it up in brief form and give it away in hopes of being helpful.

Four Ways to Live Your Life

In his book Leading On Empty, Wayne Cordeiro says that there are only four ways to live your life:

  1. Reaction – passively dominated by urgencies and pushy people
  2. Conformity – succumbing to the fear of man and just being and doing what everyone else wants, which is not necessarily following God’s will for you personally
  3. Independence – nonconforming rebellion in the name of freedom, marked by doing only what you want and ignoring godly authority over you
  4. Intentionality – reverse-engineering your life and living it prayerfully and purposefully, journaling your thoughts throughout the day, and using silence and solitude to hear from God and organize your life

Which one of these four most typifies you? Is your life a frazzled mess because you are in perpetual reaction mode? Have you not really even deeply pondered God’s will for your life but just done what you were told by other people?

Are you the sort of person who is defiant, independent, and self-reliant? Or, do you regularly (e.g., at least one hour a week and one day a month) get silence and solitude with God to work on your life before you work in it?

Next Page »