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Welcome to the Pastor’s Toolbox

During most of my teenage and unmarried adult years, my dad would faithfully buy me tools. One day, after I was married, I was talking to dad about a home project and mentioned off hand that I did not have the tool necessary to complete the task. He stopped me quickly and said, “Son, I’ve given you all the tools you need to do almost any job in your home. Go look in your toolbox.” Sure enough in my toolbox was the exact tool I needed for my job.

As a pastor, one of the most precious parts of my ministry is equipping the people God has entrusted to my care with the proper tools they need to prosper spiritually in this life. Thus, the existence of this blog. My prayer is that this site will equip God’s people with the spiritual tools they need to:

  1. walk with God.
  2. evangelize the lost.
  3. disciple other believers.
  4. defend their faith.

To God be the glory great things he has done!

 

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Modern Modesty

Modern Modesty

In my ministry, I am privileged to pastor our youth. The group of teens God has given our church are some of the most God-fearing, God-honoring teens I know. I am often asked or need to address the area of appropriate modesty. I work hard to teach modesty from the platform of biblical principle versus set rules that never fluctuate.  Teaching set rules for Christian living gives the ungodly teen who desires to appear “good” an easy place to hide. Teaching set rules for Christian living gives sets them up for failure because they have not learned how to use their Bibles to make right choices across the board.

So how do I address modesty? I first start with scriptural principles, provide a definition, and give practical daily principles.

 

Overview principles based on 1 Timothy 2:9-10:

  1. Modesty is not anti-fashionable.
    • Adorn speaks of a being beautiful not unkempt.
  2. Modesty is about who you worship.
    • Paul puts his finger on the trigger of the problem. In Ephesus, the original destination of this letter, the cultural elite were known for their gaudy and extravagant wardrobes, their elaborate hair styles, and their expensive clothing that communicated extraordinary wealth. Paul paints a picture of this for the Ephesians Christians and says, “Don’t mimic that. When you come to church, come dressed in a way that shows you desire to the attention to be on God, not yourself.” A person’s manner of dress, or even their preoccupation with clothing itself (Matt. 6:28-30), is often indicative of a heart that loves self more than God.
  3. Modesty is about behavior and attitude, not just clothing.
    • “Apparel” is a term that encompasses not just clothing, but one’s whole demeanor, attitude, and actions. Ultimately, what should adorn a Christian is not just clothing but “good works.” As Christians, we are being remade by God for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Christ died so that we might be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). We should seek to dress our lives in works that do good to others, marked with godly love.
  4. Modesty shows sensitivity to sin.
    • A Christian should be sensitive to sin, because sin is offensive to God, and never encourage it by what we wear. No, a woman is not guilty of a man’s lust if she dresses with the intention to allure him. Let him account for his sins. But she is guilty of a lack of shamefacedness, for treating sin lightly. A heart of modesty is motivated by a love for one’s fellow man.
  5. Modesty involves cultural discretion.
    • Paul’s description of immodest dress conjured a picture of someone preoccupied with appearance, fashion, luxury, and sexual prowess. Similarly, modern modesty standards are not about arbitrary rules of how much skin is shown or how low-cut something is, but about the messages and values our clothing communicates.
  6. Modesty is about true freedom, not repression.
    • Having Spirit-control in wardrobe choices is to be totally free from worldly ways of defining beauty. Ironically, it is not just those who are scantily dressed that are enslaved, but even those who pride themselves on their modesty. “Modest is hottest,” they say, unaware that in their own hearts, they are still enslaved to a preoccupation with their physical image, still defining their worth by their outward adornment.

Definition:

Modesty is wearing clothes and carrying yourself in a way that results from a right understanding of beauty and driven by a hatred of sin and a desire to point to your Savior.

Daily principles:

  1. Adequate: Does my clothing adequately cover my body?
  2. Suitable: Does my clothing fit the occasion?
  3. Appropriate: Is it appropriate for a Christian testimony?
  4. Moderate: Is the focus on being showy and trendy?

I believe if we, as followers of Christ, are motivated by love for God and others and guided by biblical principle our lives will be modest, including our clothing.

Sin and Shaving

merkur

Sin and Shaving

Unless I’m growing a goatee or beard, stubble on my face bothers me. It bothers me for a variety of reasons mostly related to my vanity but also because my wife hates it! Up until recently, I felt like I had hit the sweet spot of cost effectiveness and a quality shave. Through a series of what some may call unfortunate events, I call them providence, I discovered what has absolutely revolutionized my shaving experience – the double edged razor, less admirably also called a safety razor. This little beauty has been around for over a hundred years but went by the wayside with the advent of the disposable razor. What a shame! I bought a Merkur HD 34C (it even has a super cool sounding name!) and it has my face in awe of its ability to get me a super-close shave. The razors used are surgeon quality sharp and when used properly it is a much more enjoyable experience than my old, gross, barely (in retrospect) functional disposable blades.

I feel like my shave routine has reached near perfection. The quality is outstanding and the cost savings (you can buy 100 double edged blades for $12 on Amazon compared to the extortion prices of disposables) is incredible! Believe it or not though, this post is not about my revolutionized shave experience.  

While rubbing my hands over my yet to be mowed stubble the other morning, a couple of thoughts popped into my feeble mind. With the help of a sharp double edged razor, I spend time and energy every morning meticulously shaving in an effort to rid myself of the stubble that by the next morning will stubbornly reassert itself. However, do I likewise spend time and energy everyday meticulously attempting to remove sin from my life with the help of the razor sharp, doubled edged sword of the very words of God?

Let me conclude this post with a personal challenge to deal with our sin with zealousness. I can best do that by posing a series of statements that I have lately found to be of great help to pray over every day. These are articulated in the first person because that’s how they originated in my journal.

  1. My sins are serious offenses before a holy God.

I think the major reason I don’t deal with sin strongly and firmly is because I underestimate its seriousness. My sin steals my joy. My sin mars my fellowship with God. My sin diminishes my fruitfulness. My sin robs me of peace. My sin renders my service useless. My sin mitigates against my effectiveness in evangelism. My sin hinders my prayers. My sin brings the discipline of God.  I need to understand the seriousness of my sin. It violates first and foremost my relationship with the Lord.

  1. I purpose and promise to obey, today.

Psalm 119:32, “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.” It’s a very beautiful picture. It means I’m going to run in the way of obedience because you have given me a heart to do that. That’s the kind of purpose that is absolutely essential. There’s a great difference, you see, between sin dwelling in us and sin entertained by us. I promise You I will obey You.

  1. I am not as spiritual as perceive myself to be.

Paul said it this way, “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I have to be watching for sin’s subtle movements within my own supposed spirituality. The seducing motions of my own heart can sometimes rise out of the moments of my most supposed spirituality. I must be suspicious of my own spirituality.

  1. Today, I determine to resist the first risings of my flesh and its pleasures.

James 1 notes for a certain process of sin, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” I want to stop sin at the point of conception not try to stop it at the point of birth. Trying to stop it at that point is dangerous. Whereas resisting and opposing the first uprisings of the flesh and its pleasures is usually met with greater successes.  

  1. I will meditate on God’s Word today.

The familiar words of Psalm 119 are helpful. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” How can I lay aside sin? How can this battle be won? “By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” The constant input of the Word of God begins to fill up my mind and control my thinking and that alone becomes the strength and resource in me that can resist the initial impulses of the flesh. And as some attitude of sin or some kind of act of sin begins to well up within in me, the Word of God acts as a restraint. When I remember the truth I know, I will meditate on that, not on the enticement of the flesh and its pleasures.

  1. I will immediately and specifically repent over my failures.

Matthew 26:75 records helpful event on this matter. Peter having obviously been aware of his sin at the crowing of the cock went out and wept bitterly. There is something very admirable in that. We castigate, and rightly so, Peter for his defection but we must also honor and respect him for his immediate remorse. Being immediately repentant over my sin isn’t only saying, “I’m sorry, Lord, forgive me,” it is saying, “I’m sorry, Lord, forgive me and I don’t want to ever do that again.” When I do this I must also name my sin specifically. Naming sin specifically develops a high degree of accountability with God for having named the very sin for which He is holding me accountable not to commit again.

  1. I will depend wholly upon you, Lord, today for divine help.

Jesus said to His disciples, ” Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I cannot fight this battle on my own. By staring my day with something along the lines of, “Lord, please today lead me away from temptation, please today, Lord, deliver me from evil.” I need to set the course of my prayers before the tempter arrives, before the flesh begins to rise and entice.

My sinfulness offends a holy God, so much so that Habakkuk rightly records that God is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13). I am thankful that in Christ God does not see my righteousness but Christ’s imputed righteousness on my account! Hallelujah what a Savior! However, that does not diminish my responsibility to not let sin reign in my life. I must labor diligently to live in light of my position in Jesus.

May God help you remove sin from your life!