Godliness


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.

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[By J. R. Miller, “Copying but a Fragment”.  For similar reading like this, check out www.gracegems.org.]

“Whoever claims to live in Him–must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

Nothing is more striking to a close observer of human life, than the almost infinite variety of character which exists among those who profess to be Christians. No two are alike. Even those who are alike revered for their saintliness, who alike seem to wear the image of their Lord, whose lives are alike attractive in their beauty–show the widest diversity in individual traits, and in the cast and mold of their character. Yet all are sitting before the same model; all are striving after the same ideal; all are imitators of the same blessed life.

There is but one standard of true Christian character
likeness to Christ. It is into His image–that we are to be transformed; and it is toward His holy beauty–that we are always to strive. We are to live as He lived. We are to copy His features into our lives. Wherever, in all the world, true disciples of Christ are found–they are all trying to reproduce the likeness of their Master in themselves.

One reason for the diversity among Christians–is because even the best and holiest saints realize but a little of the image of Christ, have only one little fraction and fragment of His likeness in their souls. In one of His followers, there is some one feature of Christ’s blessed life which appears; in another, there is another feature; in a third, still a different feature. One seeks to copy Christ’s gentleness, another His patience, another His sympathy, another His meekness.

Therefore, a thousand believers may all, in a certain sense, be like Christ–and yet no two of them have, or consciously strive after, just the same features of Christ in their souls. The reason is, that the character of Christ is so great, so majestic, so glorious–that it is impossible to copy all of it into any one little human life; and again, each human character is so imperfect and limited–that it cannot reach out in all directions after the boundless and infinite character of Christ.

[Another great post by Tim Challies.  Guys, deep in my heart this is what I want.  For myself, for you, my brothers, and for Christ Church.  I encourage you to read it carefully.  Come back and read it again later.  Emphasis added by yours truly.]

In my experience there is usually one of the spouses in a marriage that handles the majority of the doctoring and nursing duties. There is one who has the medical knowledge and who knows what to do when a child or spouse is injured or maybe just plain under the weather. There is one who can clean up vomit without adding to the mess themselves. For my marriage, this person is most definitely (more…)

[Considering reproving a non-Christian?  Thinking about correcting a brother?  Read this first.  John Newton’s 18th century English is a bit difficult to decipher, but it is a timeless read.  A few items have been emphasized.]

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the Word of God. I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method’s sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself. (more…)

Let’s talk about idolatry a bit.  The kind that is all-too-accepted in the church.

A recent post on the blog (The Nameless One) from Carl Trueman discussed the current popularity of Reformed Christianity among so many believers today.  Trueman stepped on more than a few toes, I imagine, when he pointed out how celebrity-oriented our society is, and how the Church too often mirrors and exhibits the same behaviors as the world.

The point of application here, for me, is a very subtle (more…)

[This is the last post from a tract called Ten Disciplines of a Godly Man.  The question among us shouldn’t be whether we want to be Godly Men, but rather how can we be more Godly as men.]

How can we escape the power of materialism? By giving from a heart overflowing with God’s grace, like the believers in Macedonia who “gave themselves first to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5): this is where grace giving must begin.

Giving disarms the power of money. Though giving should be regular, it should also be spontaneous and responsive to needs. And it should be joyous—“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). And Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

As we sweat out the disciplines of a godly man, remember, with Paul, what energizes us to live them out—“not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

[Interested in adding this book to your library?  Head over to Christianbook.com where you can pick it up for less than $9 (plus shipping).]

[We’re in a brief series from a tract called Ten Disciplines of a Godly Man.  The question among us shouldn’t be whether we want to be Godly Men, but rather how can we be more Godly as men.]

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian; you don’t have to go home to be married. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship!

You will never attain your full spiritual manhood, nor will your family reach its spiritual maturity without commitment to the church. Find a good church, join it, and commit yourself to it wholeheartedly. Your participation should include financial support, but it should also include giving your time, talents, expertise, and creativity to the glory of God.

[Interested in adding this book to your library?  Head over to Christianbook.com where you can pick it up for less than $9 (plus shipping).]

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