Reprise: Summer Wardrobes And Stumbling Brothers

Before you put on that cute little sundress that you’ve been dying to wear, consider the points I made in this June 12, 2017 blog post:

Young Couple 02At the outset, let me say that a man bears complete responsibility for lustful thoughts and actions, regardless of how a woman dresses. As you read this blog post, please don’t mischaracterize me as excusing rape, sexual harassment or even lustful fantasies. Men must, in all circumstances, remain pure in their interactions with women, even when a woman dresses provocatively.

Have I made myself clear? If not, close this article right now, and maybe read Scriptures on the importance of sexual purity for both men and women. But if you understand that I by no means condone rape, sexual harassment or lustful fantasies in men, please keep reading. And remember, this blog is directed specifically at women, making it unnecessary (and kind of ridiculous) for me to address men on how to deal with scantily clad women during the summer months.

But ladies, I certainly can talk to you about our responsibility toward our brothers in Christ. The fact that the Lord holds them responsible to control their responses when they see too much skin or silhouette doesn’t negate our responsibility to dress modestly and carry ourselves in a manner that doesn’t call undue attention to our sexuality. Our brothers in Christ deserve the same respect from us that we want from them.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. ~~Romans 14:13 (ESV)

God created men to respond to visual stimuli, just as He created us to respond to emotional attention. When I was single, I was constantly falling for guys who, out of  compassion for my disability, treated me tenderly. They didn’t intend to communicate romantic interest, but they almost always set my heart fluttering.

I failed to control my fantasies when those brothers gave me emotional attention. I had the responsibility to guard my heart, and I very well knew that I shouldn’t have read things into their actions that they never intended to convey. But they needed a man to teach them how women are wired. They needed to understand that their behavior (although well-meaning) led me into sin.

Similarly, we need to understand that God created men to respond to visual images. Within marriage, they quite appropriately respond when they admire the bodies of their wives. God designed them that way.

But precisely because God designed them to respond to visual stimuli, women bear a responsibility to dress in ways that discourage men (other than their husbands) from looking at us in inappropriate ways. Certainly, I get that some men will look no matter how modestly we dress, and they will have to answer to the Lord for doing so. That said, that same Lord holds us accountable if we deliberately dress for the purpose of attracting attention to our bodies.

I’m not suggesting that we dress like frumps. Rather, I want to remind you to be careful, during these hot summer months, not to expose our body parts in ways that could cause our brothers to stumble. Our wish to stay cool, while important, mustn’t supplant their need to remain pure.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

When We’re Too Discerning To Love Christ

Untitled-1

We seldom recognize our own idols. This spiritual blindness engulfs all Christians, it seems to me, but I think people involved in discernment ministry ought to be particularly mindful that our zeal to expose false teachers can actually distract us from loving the Lord.

A couple of years ago, I read a passage in Revelation 2 that really compelled me to ask myself some uncomfortable questions. Sure, I could make the case that loving Christ leads to a desire for doctrinal purity in His church. In many instances, that’s  entirely true. But look at what the Lord commands the apostle John to write to the church at Ephesus:

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ ~~Revelation 2:2-7 (ESV)

In this letter, the Lord begins by commending the Ephesians for standing against false teachers. This point shows that discernment ministry definitely has its place. Indeed, several of the other churches in Revelation 2 and 3 receive harsh chastisement precisely because of their tolerance of false teaching. The Lord demands purity in His Church.

Yet the Ephesians focused so much on discernment that they abandoned their devotion to Christ Himself. They no longer had a zeal to serve Him in other ways. So, despite their stellar record in standing against false teachers, they had allowed their discernment abilities to eclipse their devotion to the Lord. In no uncertain terms, these discernment giants were ordered to repent.

Although this letter affirms discernment ministry, it also indicates that discernment can become an idol. How ironic is that? We can become so enamored with our skill in distinguishing truth from error that we read the Bible looking for ammunition that will help us expose whatever false teacher we happen to have in our cross-hairs at the moment. We forget Christ’s answer when asked about the greatest commandment:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. ~~Matthew 22:37-38 (ESV)

Let’s cultivate discernment, by all means! But let’s not limit discernment merely to calling out false teachers. Let’s also seek to discern from Scripture how we can best love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. The Ephesians forgot to maintain that type of discernment. We dare not.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Butterflies Might Be Pretty, But They Flutter By Quite Quickly

Untitled-1The early years of my relationship with John overflowed with euphoria. I can remember sitting at my computer and feeling thrilled when an instant message from him popped up on my screen. The first time I visited, we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other.

The day after our wedding, we sang, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” to each other. We were giddy! People told me that the butterflies would eventually subside. Intellectually, I knew they were right,  but my emotions told me a much different story. I simply couldn’t imagine looking at John without feeling butterflies.

I’m not sure when the butterflies flew away. One day I just realized that they had given way to a much more satisfying love. This new love satisfies me even more, for Continue reading

Wellspring Of The Joy Of Living

Non-Christians do experience a measure of joy; the Lord graciously blesses them with the delights of family and friends.

As an example, many American mothers (regardless of their relationships with Christ) are enjoying special attention today as their children shower them with gifts or make them breakfast in bed. For many, Mother’s Day is a joyful celebration.

Christians,  however, have an even deeper joy because Jesus has paid for our sins and given us new life. We see His hand in creation, and rejoice that all His works point back to His glory. Even our ability to love each other ultimately comes from Him.

The Lord is the source of all joy, whether we acknowledge Him or not. Christians merely recognize, by His grace, that joy comes from Him. Consequently, we rejoice all the more as we praise Him for filling us with joy divine!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Followers Of Rachel Held Evans Need Compassion And Truth

Untitled-1For a short while in the late 1980s, I participated in an AIDS ministry. I remember my friend Bob Winter (who began the ministry in response to his own battle with AIDS) teaching us that it’s easy to be right and yet be very wrong. In other words, we can present truth, but in a manner that rides roughshod over the feelings of hurting people.

I’ve been thinking about Bob’s remark today as I’ve thought about the followers of Rachel Held Evans. These people have indeed been deceived by her liberal approach to Christianity — particularly her rejection of Scripture’s authority. They need Continue reading

Fearing The God I Love

Jacksonville 1955

Mom and me in Jacksonville, Florida ~~ 1955

Have you read through Proverbs lately? Throughout the book, Solomon writes about various benefits of fearing God. For instance, he writes:

26 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
    and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
    that one may turn away from the snares of death. ~~Proverbs 14:26-27 (ESV)

Sadly, 21st Century evangelicals have difficulty accepting the idea of fearing God, preferring to emphasize Continue reading

Dying To Self Actually Means Dying To Self

Untitled-1We Evangelicals often get caught up in the narcissism that characterizes this age. Personally, I believe the absorption of psychology into the visible church has a lot to do with this epidemic. But whatever causes this selfishness,  too many of us succumb to it. Including yours truly.

I remember avoiding weddings early in my battle with singleness (I didn’t marry John until I was almost 49). For a couple years in my mid-twenties, I’d explain to my girlfriends that attending their weddings would just be too crushing for me.

Usually my girlfriends accepted my decision without complaint. Finally, however, one had the guts to confront me with my selfishness. She wept with me over my romantic disappointment, but now she very much wanted me to rejoice with her. The man who had broken my heart would also be there, she admitted, but having me there meant a lot to her.

I went. I saw the man who had broken my heart, but then I actually enjoyed myself! More importantly, I Continue reading