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Books,Christian Living,Christians and Culture

May 27, 2010

Thinking Christianly About Sports

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(By David Giarrizzo)

[I’m borrowing the title of this post from the subtitle of Robert Spinney’s booklet entitled, Did God Create Sports Also?: Thinking Christianly About Sports.]

Last week was game 1 of the Phoenix Suns-L.A. Lakers match-up for the NBA Western Conference finals. I had a group of about 8 guys over to watch the game. We had the usual trappings of a game-night party: chips, drinks, bratwursts, veggies, and cookies.

Oh, and a devotional.

When I sent out the text-message invite earlier that day, a brother of mine responded by suggesting a half-time devotional. I thought it was a great idea, and I was reminded of the book by Robert Spinney about sports.

In just 21 pages, Spinney makes it clear that sports, while they can be used to glorify God and benefit us, they can also be misused and made into an idol. I found this quote to be the central theme of the book:

“We should not accept blindly our culture’s understanding of anything, including hobbies, politics, vulgar speech, or care for the elderly. Nor should we simply assume that our culture uses sports as God intended them to be used. We must think Christianly about the subjects of entertainment and physical recreation. Like work, marriage, child-rearing, and education, this area of life must be taken captive to the obedience of Christ and submitted to His lordship (2 Corinthians 10:5).”


Here’s an outline of Spinney’s major points:

  1. Sports are a part of God’s good creation. They can both glorify God and profit our souls.
  2. We can engage in recreation in such a way that it doesn’t glorify God and doesn’t bless us.
  3. We misuse sports when they (not God) address our deepest needs and become our purpose in life.
  4. Sports do not glorify God when they distract us from biblical behaviors and require too much time.
  5. Our sports do not glorify God when they nurture in us an excessive and unhealthy competitiveness.
  6. For many, sports expose how we behave when we love something and are deeply committed to it.


It’s not surprising any more that some Christians want little to do with professional sports today. These Christians may choose to abstain from following sports like they may choose to abstain from watching any television or going to the movies or listening to “secular” music, etc. But as I’ve written before, we must not equate abstinence to holiness. While we can all acknowledge that sports and TV and film and music have all been used and abused by a sinful society, we cannot say that God does not also use these same things to bring glory to Himself. In fact, God created sports and man’s athletic abilities, and we know that all things God created are good. Sports and art and other aspects of culture are gifts from God to mankind. We must remember to use everything God has given to us to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).

So be encouraged, brothers and sisters, as you enjoy the gifts of God through culture, always giving thanks and glory to the Maker of all good things. Like Eric Liddell, enjoy sports to the glory of God. Go Suns!

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” –Abraham Kuyper

Books

January 6, 2010

CrossTalk: What is the Bible? (Part 1)

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(By: Christopher Powell) Today we return to our blogging series in Dr. Mike Emlet’s recent book release CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet and begin our look at chapter two. (See posts on the introduction, and chapter one). Starting in this chapter and going into chapter three Emlet looks at the nature of the Scriptures. In this chapter he considers the case negatively – “What the Bible is Not (Primarily).” Emlet affirms a biblical-theological approach to the Scriptures focusing first of all on genre.

 

What I appreciate about Emlet so far (in this and other material I’ve read from him) is his ability to use apt illustrations. In trying to communicate the challenges different genres pose to biblical interpretation he uses the example of a magazine article headline: “Tigers Devour Cubs in Record Time” which could be read in one way if it appeared in the magazine Sports Illustrated versus the same headline in National Geographic.

 

So our interpretation of a phrase about Christ in the apocalyptic literature of Revelation is going to be approached differently than an historical account of Jesus in the Gospels. The bottom line for Emlet: “The nature of the Bible – what the Bible is – must shape the way we interpret and apply it.” This is a key hermeneutical principle and one that needs to clarified.

 

 

Emlet asserts next that the Bible is NOT primarily a book of “Do’s” and “Don’ts”. While the Bible does contain imperatives, it is not limited to them – there are many descriptive passages that do not tell us to do anything at all. Emlet incisively points to the fact that we often gravitate to the command passages. As he puts it: “It seems easier to determine what we are to DO after studying the verse or passage.” When I read this I could not help thinking of his “thin bible” illustration which he used as a hook in the introduction. It’s true that we gravitate to the command passages because they are “ditch” passages that are easier to apply. I remember the first time I really had to grapple with how to teach Jesus cursing the fig tree in Mark 11:13-14. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but, when you understand it in the context of Israel and the clearing of the temple, you start to see a very powerful visual parable.

 

The other issue that comes up if you use an exclusive law-oriented (do’s and don’ts approach) to Scripture is the conundrum of which laws do you apply? Everyone has no quibble with applying Leviticus 19:11 today, but what about 8 verses later in Leviticus 19:19? Incidentally, this is the problem that was mockingly brought to the forefront recently in A.J. Jacob’s book: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Emlet’s point is clear: if the Bible is essentially a book of commands, what gives us the right to pick and choose which ones apply now? We need something beyond the individual commands that puts them in a larger and broader redemptive or relational framework. Jacob’s error is a common but serious one – it is essentially a complete misconception of what the Bible really is.

 

Of course, one other very important issue is the fact that has become very apparent in our own church’s recent expositional studies in the book of Genesis on Sunday mornings. The fact is, God’s commands, his judgments and his actions are never separated from their basis in his redeeming love. To strip the commands of their loving context is a recipe for legalism and discouragement. It is everything that true Christianity is not.

 

Emlet then continues his analysis looking at a list of things that the Bible is not. In summary, Emlet argues that the Bible is NOT.

 

• A Book of Timeless Principles for the Problems of Life
The main point here is that the Bible is not a topical index of various verses for various problems. We can’t ignore the very historicity, culture and social aspects of the Bible in our interpretation. It’s too easy to read principles INTO a text support a cherished belief (eisegesis) especially when a text is detached from its redemptive-historical context. This is really the argument for biblical theology.
• A Casebook of Characters to Imitate or Avoid

This is a variation on the “timeless principles” theme which highlights a particular character and then applies that character to us – the “dare to be a Daniel approach.” Now, there are many legitimate uses of the exemplary approach to interpretation and Emlet does highlight explicit examples of this like in James 5:10-11, 5:16, 1 John 3:11-12, 1 Corinthians 10:7, 10:10, and of Jesus himself in Hebrews 12:3. Emlet’s concern is that by focusing on the characters we lose perspective on the actual main subject of the Scriptures – God himself. Focusing on the characters delivering the feeding of the 5000 for example misses the focus on Jesus who is the author of the miracles. He is the manna in flesh John 6:32-35.
• A System of doctrines
Emlet finally argues against a primary definition of the Bible as a series of doctrinal formulations because it can minimize the depth and breadth of biblical wisdom. While Systematic theology helps to cull the Bible’s teaching it does not exhaust the complexity of what God means to say to the church. He uses the illustration of a book report that outlines and summarizes the contents of a book but is no substitute for reading, pondering, wrestling and relishing a book in its details. An outline cannot be a substitute for God’s multifaceted communication through his word.
• A Christless Document

Emlet ends his analysis by more of an affirmation than a denial. He affirms that the Bible is about Jesus Christ. Many of the dangers of these other approaches is that they do not adequately focus on the Christ-centered-ness of Scripture as a redemptive-historical development.

 

Emlet’s analysis here is helpful. While there is much debate about the interplay of systematic and biblical theology, I believe the point is true that the Scriptures are centered on God and His revelation in history. Jesus Himself made this point after His resurrection as He traveled on the road to Emmaus. He makes it clear that all Scripture relates to Him (Luke 24:27).

 

Next week we’ll explore Emlet’s teaching on what the other side of what Scripture IS and set the stage for how we are to wisely apply the Scriptures to life.

Books,Christian Living

November 25, 2009

Just Do Something: Final Thoughts

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(By David Giarrizzo)

The Road of LifeGod’s Word is clear:
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:17

Seeking the will of the Lord does not have to be a mystical part of the journey of life. In fact, the mystery of God’s decretive will is revealed when God opens our eyes to His written Word which he has given us to teach us and guide us within His will. Too many well-intentioned people are looking for answers to life’s biggest questions in all the wrong places (visions and dreams, signs and wonders, open and closed doors, feelings of the heart, false teachers, self-help books, random Bible verses, etc.). And too many poor-intentioned preachers are leading others astray through these and other means. But I appreciate how straight-forward Kevin DeYoung  is when he writes, “Apart from the Spirit working through Scripture, God does not promise to use any other means to guide us, nor should we expect Him to” (Just Do Something, p 68). This principle (sola scriptura) is important for Christians to uphold and remember, not just for theological conversations and apologetic debates, but also for answers to the questions and challenges of life, large or small.

Important Reminders

  • Live a Christ-centered life. The focus in a Christian’s life must never be taken off of Jesus Christ. It’s been said, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” Well, folks, Jesus Christ is the “main thing” in a believer’s life. There is nothing more important than to follow this Savior in humble obedience that stems from a grateful love of God. Remember the first and second greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Keep Christ at the forefront of your life, and everything else will fall into place.
  • Be rooted in the Word. In order to know God’s will, we must know God; and in order to know God, we must know His Word. Read it. Dig in deep. Mine the divine wisdom that is contained between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21. Know God’s Word in order to know God, and as you get to know God, you will learn more of God’s will for His people.
  • Chase after wisdom. Don’t spin your wheels seeking answers anywhere other than Scripture. Solomon compares true wisdom to the most precious of jewels, as important as life itself.
    “My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. …For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:21-23, 26)
  • God's WordMaintain an attitude of trust in God. Trusting God should not merely be an action that a Christian engages in on occasion. Trusting God should be a natural, basic part of the Christian’s thoughts and attitude. Kevin DeYoung writes about maintaining a daily trust in God: “We don’t have to say ‘If the Lord wills’ after every sentence, but it must be in our heads and hearts. We must live our lives believing that all of our plans and strategies are subject to the immutable will of God. Therefore, we should be humble in looking to the future because we don’t control it; God does” (p 47).

    Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

Recommended Resources*

1. God’s Word

    “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

    “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

    I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7

    “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

    And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10

    “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2

    “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” Ephesians 1:11

    “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:28-29

    2. The Church

      God has given us the blessing of the church to point us back to our dependence upon Him for all things. This is what our brothers and sisters do for us—they point us to that which is most important: Jesus Christ. As we strive to become more like our Savior, we should be interacting with the beloved saints of God. The church with its members exists, in part, to sanctify God’s elect. If it is God’s will that we be sanctified, shouldn’t we seek to do God’s will and utilize the means of grace through the blessing of the local church? Of course! Additionally, a healthy church has healthy leadership who give sound, biblical advice to believers who are genuinely seeking God’s will. Go to your elders, seek their counsel, and learn from them.

      3. Good Books

        There have been many great books written on the topics of God’s will and decision-making. But here are a few on similar topics that have proven beneficial to me in my life:

        • Just Do Something (Kevin DeYoung)
        • Don’t Waste Your Life (John Piper)
        • Do Hard Things (Alex and Brett Harris)
        • Business for the Glory of God (Wayne Grudem)
        • A Guide to Christian Ambition (Hugh Hewitt)
        • Boy Meets Girl (Joshua Harris)
        • Manly Dominion (Mark Chanski)
        • The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (Tim Challies)

        *Please add any other good resources in the comment section.

        I pray that as we walk through this world we will keep our feet planted in the Word and our eyes fixed on the Hope that is to come (Matthew 6:33); then we will find comfort and confidence and joy in the fact that our Shepherd guides us wherever we may walk. And when we come to those metaphorical forks in the road of life, I pray that we be not paralyzed but press on towards the goal.

        …At least do something!


        Books,Christian Living

        November 18, 2009

        Just Do Something: Life’s Big Decisions

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        (By David Giarrizzo)

        DecisionsLast week I began a short discussion on the topic of God’s will and decision-making flowing from Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something. In that post I addressed four categories of Christians: planners, plodders, players, and the paralyzed. While local churches should be full of discerning planners and faithful plodders, far too often church pews are filled with playing and paralyzed people who are not making Gospel strides. While some of these paralyzed believers probably have intentions that are morally upright, they are nonetheless incapacitated by worry and fear of the future. As DeYoung puts it, “Passivity is a plague among Christians. It’s not that we just don’t do anything; it’s that we feel spiritual for not doing anything” (p 51). Therefore, these individuals accomplish little for the cause of the Gospel.

        But the message is this: Do Something!

        As the back cover of DeYoung’s book points out, “God doesn’t need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He’s already revealed His plan for our lives: to love Him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.” How important this is for us to understand, especially those brothers and sisters who are paralyzed by fear of the future. This theme of the book comes from Christ’s words in Matthew 6:

        Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? . . . Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? …So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25, 27, 31-34)

        Having been involved with our church’s college and career group, I can understand why much of what is written in Just Do Something is especially applicable to young adults. Young adults, especially those who are single and still in college, have many “closed doors” and “question marks” before them when they think about their futures: career, home, spouse, children, etc. But answering all of the question marks doesn’t require a person to become paralyzed as they try to strategize before entering into the unknown.

        Undoubtedly, the time in a person’s life from one’s late teens through the early thirties is an important period. Many important life choices are made during these years—where to go to school, who to date, when to marry, where to live, where to go to church, etc. But the focus in all of these things shouldn’t be on the questions themselves, but on Jesus.  This is why the point of Matthew 6—and the rest of Scripture’s teaching on the subject—seems to be, “Don’t worry about all of those earthly ‘things.’ But by faith, seek after the unseen things such as the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then everything else will fall into place according to God’s will.”

        Still, even though we recognize the truth of passages like Matthew 6:33 and Romans 8:28, there can be a natural hesitation or fear amidst major choices of life. I admire the way DeYoung writes about how believers can experience peace in the face of life-changing decisions: “[W]hen it comes to most of our daily decisions, and even a lot of life’s ‘big’ decisions, God expects and encourages us to make choices, confident that He’s already determined how to fit our choices into His sovereign will” (p 51). There’s the point: Don’t worry because God is sovereign.

        In the realm of church life, when it comes to “discovering God’s will for your life” or “finding your spiritual gift,” I think the best advice for anyone is this: Stop wondering, stop worrying, and get to work. This is something that we try to encourage through the Building Tomorrow’s Church conference for young adults. Young people—late teens and college-aged Christians— don’t have to wait around until they are their parents’ ages to fulfill the roles of responsible church members; they don’t have to wait until they are married to get involved in the core ministries of their churches. All believers are called to minister to and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

        The area of dating and marriage is another major concern for many young, single Christians. But this important arena of life is simply another opportunity to trust the Lord and live life according to His Word. When my wife and I were dating (feel free to call it “courting” if it makes you feel better), she lived in Kansas while I was in Arizona for three (long) years. During this time right after high school, neither of us could exactly foresee God’s plan for us in the future. But Psalm 40:8 became a theme of our relationship: “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. With the Word of God constantly before us, we prayerfully continued forward with our relationship until it became evident to us and everyone who knew us that God was pointing us towards marriage.

        SuGod's Word, His Willre, there was great risk involved as Paige and I lived 1,200 miles apart in different homes, different schools, [very] different churches, different jobs; but what worth having doesn’t involve some level of risk?! I appreciate what DeYoung mentions about risk and the future: “We must renounce our sinful desire to know the future and to be in control. We are not gods. We walk by faith, not by sight. We risk because God does not risk. We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that’s all we need to know” (p 48). As all Christians are commanded to do, Paige and I sought to live each day with eyes fixed on Christ. The rest of life, as God taught us, would be worked out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

        Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus,
        I behold thee as thou art,
        And thy love, so pure, so changeless,
        Satisfies my heart;
        Satisfies its deepest longings,
        Meets, supplies its every need,
        Compasseth me round with blessings:
        Thine is love indeed.
        -Jean S. Pig­ott


        The most important things in life center around “…who we are, not where we are” (p 60). Who we are in Christ is so much more an important preoccupation for believers to be focused on rather than who to marry or where to live or which job to take or how many kids to have or when to retire. (If only we spent more time on that important question!)

        I hope to continue and conclude this topic next week.

        Books,Christian Living,Ecclesiology

        November 11, 2009

        Just Do Something: 4 Types of People

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        (By David Giarrizzo)

        What a trip! Over the past week I have had the opportunity to fly to the opposite end of the country (central Florida), play the part of the best man in a good friend’s wedding, spend some quality time with my family and close friends, go to a theme park, worship with a small Reformed Baptist congregation, and catch up on some reading. Overall, it was a great time, but I’m glad to be home (as of 30 minutes ago).

        Just Do SomethingAs I thought about what I would write on for this week’s post, I found my answer in a book. There’s one book in particular that I have been meaning to read since I first heard about months and months ago that I was finally able to read this past weekend. It’s called Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will; Or, How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verse, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing In the Sky, Etc. by Kevin DeYoung (co-author with Ted Kluck of Why We’re Not Emergent and more recently, Why We Love the Church). It’s a short, easy read of only 122 [small] pages, and I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a very basic, very biblical understanding of God’s will and decision-making. While I do not want to present an all-out book review (for a couple of those, check out here and here), I do want to discuss some of the important points that DeYoung makes in his book on knowing the will of God in a few posts on the subject of God’s will, but more specifically how we as believers are to think and live.

        Let me begin by discussing four different types of people that I categorized in my mind through reading Just Do Something. I figure there are many types of people with varying personality types, cultural traditions, work ethics, behavioral patterns, theological nuances, etc. But in terms of Christians who are to be at work serving the Lord, I came up with these four categories of people: Planners, Plodders, Players and the Paralyzed.

        Planners—Visionaries, pioneers, innovators; plan ahead; often express leadership qualities; can see the big picture, but may not be as good with details.
        “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8
        “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

        Plodders—Hard workers day-in and day-out, task-oriented, patient, dependable; manage the details well, not easily distracted; able to consistently complete their work and meet their goals.
        “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11
        The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” Proverbs 12:24

        Players—Entertainment-driven, looking for excitement & fulfillment through material objects; worldly, easily distracted, unreliable. (Consider the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:13.)

        Paralyzed—Easily confused, easily distressed; indecisive, worrisome; procrastinators, excuse-makers; Do-nothings. (I think of Bunyan’s characters, Simple, Sloth, and Presumption, who Christian encounters just to the side of The Way in Pilgrim’s Progress.)

        (Of course, each of these could probably be subcategorized or this list added to, but these are the four that came to mind while reading DeYoung’s book. If you come up with other categories, please leave your thoughts in the comment section!)

        Many people go through phases in life where any of these characteristics could describe them; however, some people just simply resemble one type of person more than any other. For example, I know some plodders within our church congregation who have worked behind the scenes for years simply doing the work of the Lord through various ministries. Likewise, some generations seem to produce more of one type than another. I think of the plodders of my grandparent’s generation who were happy just getting a paycheck for doing an honest day’s work. I think of the baby boomers and the many innovations that came out of that generation (think: the internet). Then I think of my generation comprised of some Gen-Xers and some Millennials (I am a “cusper” because I was born in the early ‘80’s and can relate closely to both generations). This generation, as DeYoung points out in chapter 1, is a generation of “tinkerers.” DeYoung writes, “Our grandparents built. Our parents boomed. And my generation? We tinker” (p 12). I think that word “tinker” accurately portrays my generation: we mess around with things, probably because there’s so much to tinker with. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the blessings of technology for the Christian. But as we all well know, with technology also come many distractions. And I think that technology, as much as it has helped us do some things faster, it has likewise become one of the largest distractions to productivity.

        Farmer plowingIdeally, the church should be full of both Planners and Plodders, not Players or paralyzed parts. We should see our churches full of people with purpose and vision for the future. And we should see our churches busy in ministering and actively working to see the fruit of their labors for the glory of God (the faithful proclamation of the Gospel; the caring for the poor, sick, and needy; the sending and supporting of missionaries; etc.). Regretfully, though, some churches suffer and are inhibited by those who find more fulfillment in worldly pleasures and spend their time and energy on pursuing personal rather than spiritual gain; or by those who seem to do absolutely nothing for the benefit of themselves, never mind for the kingdom. These latter individuals are paralyzed by indecision. Additionally, as DeYoung acknowledges, they often excuse their life-long procrastination and sluggishness with statements like, “I’m trying to find God’s will for my life” or “I am praying for God to give me direction.” The problem is this: God HAS given us direction, He has shown us His will for our lives in His WORD!

        Hebrews 1:2“…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” This is how God speaks to us today.

        And God has shown us His will for our lives in 1 Thessalonians 4:3—“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”.

        I look forward to writing more on this subject and further discussing other points that DeYoung brings out in his book, Just Do Something. For now, let me leave you with this:

        Are you a Planner or a Plodder? How are you currently using your spiritual gifts to benefit the body? Are you spending too much time playing when there is God’s work to be done? Or are you paralyzed by fear, indecision, or confusion? As the old saying goes, “Plan your work and work your plan.” Start by getting up and doing something. But don’t just tinker with life; don’t tinker with the important things like God’s will, your spiritual growth, and ministering through the body of Christ. Whatever your hand finds to do, remember:  do it with all your might (Eccl. 9:10) and to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)!

        Christian Living,Christians and Culture

        September 17, 2009

        Guarding Daugthers in a Sexualized Culture

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        daddy-girl-brunette
        (By: Nicholas Kennicott)

        As the father of a 4 month old girl, I now find myself constantly looking for good resources regarding the raising and care of daughters. As I’ve considered the difference between boys and girls, I suppose it’s not accurate to say that one is easier than the other to raise — but, it sure seems as though girls are a bit more difficult!

        One of the areas of utmost concern for me is what my daughter will understand about modesty and self-image. As we’ve looked around at the baby stores in our community, I’m appauled at newborn clothing with statements blazened across the front like “Supermodel”, “Single and Fabulous”, “Princess”, or “Her Royal Highness.” And while many will say that these things are cute for babies, it’s important to remember that how we dress our children in the early years will determine a lot about how they dress themselves later in life.

        In addition to clothing and modesty, there are several other areas that parents of girls must be concerned about, especially with the ever increasing acceptance of everything sexual in our cultural context. The Covenant Eyes blog, Breaking Free, has a fantastic article entitled Guarding Our Daughters in This Sexualized Culture. I’d encourage you to read the entire thing, but here are the writer’s main points:

        Pray for her. It’s not long after that positive pregnancy test that a mother realizes the well-being and security of her child are almost entirely out of her hands. She is left with this choice: a lifetime of desperation, or a lifetime of prayer. May she always choose prayer, prayer and prayer.

        Let her be a little girl for years—in her toy-box and wardrobe. Encourage little girls to play like little girls: dolls, kitchen, doctor, school, blocks, and good-quality books. Be very careful about the TV programs, movies, websites, and video games to which your daughter is exposed. And enjoy dressing your sweetheart like a little girl. Research shows that “dressing beyond her years” is one of the top reasons for early promiscuity.

        Don’t make a big deal about body image, natural curiosity, or accidental innuendos. If you can cover over these things with grace, you will be protecting your daughter from shame and unnecessarily mature information which you feel is inappropriate for her premature world.

        Enjoy dressing modestly with her. In a funny way, it was rewarding when my 3 year-old saw a workout video for the first time and asked, “Why are those ladies naked?” Of course, they weren’t naked, but to her, they were wearing far fewer clothes than we wear. I was grateful for her innocence.

        Teach her to have compassion on (and to look away from) paper women who are objectifying themselves; you and your daughters should be in the habit of looking away from the same supermarket magazines that you would expect your sons and husbands to look away from as well. The airbrushed images are just as damaging to females as they are to men. (And by all means, remove these images from your coffee table, and take them out of your bathroom baskets! Yikes!)

        Celebrate the beauty of her inner-self, which is growing more Christ-like each day. Our little girls should be able to see the same beauty in us.

        Give her full permission to SCREAM at the top of her lungs whenever she is in danger. Her high-pitched ear-piercing scream might get on your last nerve, but it is a God-given device of protection. Explain to her that if she is ever in danger, she should scream her lungs out. Have a screaming match with her indoors and outdoors so that she is comfortable letting it rip in both environments. As she understands this amazing defense mechanism, you may be pleased to notice that she uses it more frugally around the house. It will be good for you both to remember that you are worth protecting.

        Plan activities and conversations that tie your heart to hers. May both Mommy and Daddy take her out on regular dates, establish bed-time traditions, talk to her at dinner time, enjoy her personality and love her—no matter what the circumstance. Here are some books that have helped me to think about these things and to plan for the future: Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl: 8 Great Dates for You and Your Daughter, and Carolyn Mahaney’s Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood.

        Fill her up with God’s glorious design for girlhood. Instead of focusing on all of the “no’s” and “don’t’s,” celebrate the “yes’s” and “do’s”. We’ve greatly enjoyed God’s Wisdom for Little Girls: Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31.

        Also, don’t miss the link that the author included regarding modesty — there’s a dynamite series on 10 Days to Modesty at the Like a Warm Cup of Coffee blog.