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Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

Modesty is a word that, in Christian circles, usually refers to the hot topic of dress codes.  Should women wear swimsuits in public?  What is appropriate for church?  For everyday?  Is only the motive important, or is there an absolute line that should be drawn: you can see this much skin and no further, this much shape and no more? 

But modesty originally had more to do with attitude than appearance.  The word is often applied to what we wear, which is a good use for the term.  But have you not heard someone responding to a denied compliment: “Don’t be so modest!”  In this sense, modesty is a synonym for humility.  We get an idea of not praising oneself.  Do not desire the praise of men, but certainly don’t praise yourself before men.  Let your own works praise you in the gates…

Attention is a big theme of modesty.  Are you demanding attention?  It is not modest to dress so provocatively that others must notice you.  Nor is it modest to talk often of yourself, whether what you tell is good or bad, true or false.  To be modest is not the same as being shy.  Modest people do not need to hide in the shadows or refuse compliments.  They are gracious and grateful, cheerful and others-centered. 

Today I am convicted by a different form of modesty that I had never considered.  Complaining.  First of all, the Bible specifically condemns grumbling, so that should be sufficient reason not to do it.  Secondly, being around complaining people is unpleasant.  And it brings me down.  Focusing on the bad is the opposite of thankfulness and contentment.  Speaking about it is the opposite of modesty. 

Frustrated with my displays of discontent recently, I examined what was driving me to complain.  And I realized that I complain for something to say and so that people will listen to me and notice me and be forced into my concerns. Complaining is different from asking for help.  My whining at times has been a plea for help, but too proud to be expressed.  There is a short road, then, from the attention-grabbing complaint to pride and bitterness and being quite rude to people. 

Love is not rude.  It is not self-seeking or puffed up.  Love is modest.  I am called to love my neighbor.  I serve a God jealous for glory, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Grace is something I could use a lot of.

In order to pursue God’s glory and loving my neighbors, I am going to:

  • Get someone to smack me when I complain. 
  • Practice asking for help.
  • Ask questions about other peoples’ lives rather than ranting about my own.
  • Practice thankfulness.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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“One may steal your thunder, but the lightning is always God’s.” – my family (a collaborative quote, in which we were stealing each other’s thunder)

Several weeks ago – this post is way behind, so sorry – my brother gathered a group of our friends who, along with others of our acquaintance, have independently sensed the call to do something with our knowledge and fellowship.  We are so good at parties, but we lose focus.  So many of us have been wondering where God wants us to act.  My brother gathered us to pray and share Scripture, seeking God for where He wants us to serve, why, how, who, etc.  It must be a God thing, or it is nothing. 

Last year for a few months I attended a young adult Bible study and worship time in which I sensed that most of us were passionately eager to serve God, to have a part in His work, but He hadn’t told us where to go.  He has been building faith in a young generation, like armies in waiting.  And we gathered to wait on Him, to encourage our readiness, and to seek God’s marching orders.  Some days I think there are so many causes, that I wonder why it’s difficult to find mine.  And then I remember that God has us waiting.  Until God speaks, I can wait. 

Karen Hancock’s allegory, Arena, is a vivid description of Christian living.  At one point all those “saved” are waiting, studying and training, in a well-provisioned safe haven.  They must wait for the exact moment at which God will give them a sign to move out and cross the enemy-infested lands to the portal to home.  If they leave too early or too late, they will run across lines and camps of enemies and be lost.  So they wait.  So we wait. 

But we believe God is at work.  Over Memorial Day Weekend I attended the New Attitude Conference in Louisville, KY.  Put on by Sovereign Grace and featuring Josh Harris, Eric Simmons, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, and John Piper as speakers, the young adult conference attracted 3,000 soldiers in waiting.  I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, to find most of them as directionless as me.  Ok, most of them had college degree or career goals, but spiritually we weren’t sure where God wanted us.  Some of us, in the midst of waiting, felt like the fight to keep heads above water while treading was all we could do.  Maintaining a devotional and prayer life, passionately worshiping God and memorizing His Word were high orders. 

Then John Piper spoke on William Tyndale, who most certainly had a calling and was not about to waste his life.  He translated the whole New Testament and several Old Testament books into English for the first time.  And he wrote books and campaigned for the Bible to be printed in the common tongue and made available to the people – at the risk and cost of his own life.  The challenge went out and resonated with the three thousand in attendance. 

Why does it resonate?  Because God is at work, in the grassroots, you might say, reviving our faith in a big God.  Twenty-something Christians, though comparatively immature in our marriage and childbearing rates and economic productivity, are getting excited about the truth, about a God bigger than themselves.  Rejecting the shallow self-help and entertainment-driven church culture, they are reading up on Jonathan Edwards and getting excited about William Tyndale, singing theology-rich God-centered worship songs like Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God, or Isaac Watts’ hymns. 

This is the subject of Young, Restless, and Reformed.  Collin Hansen took a tour of the country to find out about this multi-rooted movement of ‘young Calvinists.’  He did a great job of filling pages with information about theology, denominations, organizations, authors, and what’s so exciting to us about God’s sovereignty.  Grace, a consistent description of the world, a God worth worshiping – we have lots of answers, lots of paths that are bringing us to become part of the revival of Calvinism in the West.  Why is God doing this?  We wait to see. 

Not only are our discoveries and conversions to Calvinism different; the lifestyles and trappings in which we couch our belief in the sovereignty of God also run a spectrum, which Collin Hansen (a writer for Christianity Today) describes with excellence: from liturgical and traditional presbyterians to charismatic and modern Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney.  Then there’s the unusual mix of Baptists and Calvinism (which for the moment describes me, though I find myself pretty much in pieces of everything).  On of the most interesting parts of Young, Restless, and Reformed to me was the chapter on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Al Mohler’s Calvinist makeover of the college.  So that’s why my friends at Elect Exiles are Election-affirming and Baptist.  I’m from a church that, in my observation, has been more typical of 20th century S. Baptists: in between Calvinism and Arminianism and reluctant to debate the issue.  The tides are turning.  I’ll confess belief in a big, sovereign God was a prerequisite for me to vote for our current pastor. 

This is a book I will recommend to pretty much everyone.  The only disappointment I had was that the chapter on New Attitude, titled “Forget Reinvention,” didn’t say much about the conference.  If you want to know about that, the New Attitude website has plenty of info to get you hyped about next year.  I read the book in a few days, and told everyone I know about the book for the next several weeks.  Read it, talk about it, and be encouraged by all the others God is calling.  Keep waiting. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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