**Most of this blog is for girls only! Any boys, please only read the posts linked to in the "For Boys" page on the sidebar. Thank you.**

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Modesty in Actions... huh?

 Hey guys! I'm working on a post about modesty in actions, but I just can't seem to put my finger on what exactly it is that is wrong with our behaviour sometimes. Like, I sometimes I come home from, say, youth and think to myself, "Hm, I don't think I behaved in the best manner tonight. " Often I think I've crossed some line, but it's hard to define what and where that line is. So I'm wondering what you guys think: how does God  want us to behave modestly, what do we often do 'wrong,' and what's wrong with it? Inviting all comments...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

"Mission Modesty - Revive Our Actions" (Part 2)

 Thanks for your thoughts guys! They were great!

OK, you may or may not remember my post "Mission Modesty - Protect Our Brothers! (Part 1)." If you haven't read it, go and check it out. Any way, you may (or may not!) have wondered, "where's part two?" Well... Ta-da! This is it! (And just to warn you, this is gonna be a long post! And sorry about the funny text. It kept mucking up, so there's variations within the post.)

OK, first I want to define what I think modesty in actions really is. Then I'll go on to give some examples of what it looks like. But for now, here's my definition: modesty in actions is a quality that comes from the heart-desire to let Jesus shine through one's actions, is spurred on by prudence and results in discretion, selflessness and control of one's behaviour. 

Let's unpack that a bit more. (I'll try hard to balance my descriptions between explaining thoroughly and not over-explaining and repeating myself, and so confusing you. Bear with me.)
  1. Comes from the heart-desire to let Jesus shine through our actions.  This is all-important. We can't do a very good job of being modest if we don't truly desire to shine Jesus' character to everyone we meet. It'll just be propped up and fake. This eagerness that Jesus places within us to show Him every way we can is the foundation to modesty of any kind. Emily Grace said that we need to fill up on scripture and discover what God says about how we should behave. I agree; it'll fire us up for wanting to show Him to everyone.
  2. Is spurred on by prudence. Prudence is defined as "being careful to avoid undesired consequences" (The Concise Oxford Dictionary) and "caution in regard to practical matters" (Dictionary.com). This obviously means that prudence is important to in our decisions. We are constantly making decisions on how to behave, and prudence helps us to make careful decisions that will have positive effects. Modesty in actions is spurred on by wise decision making... a.k.a. prudence. (There are some verses in Proverbs about prudence: check out Proverbs 12:8, 15:5 and 21:16.)
  3. Results in - Discretion. Discretion is being discreet in our behaviour. 'Discreet' is defined as "wise in one's conduct or speech, especially with regards to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about somethingof a delicate nature," or "modestly unobtrusive; not intended to attract notice." Not being overly silly or loud and not drawing attention to ourselves, etc,  is discreet (more on this later).  Flirting is certainly not discreet (more on that later too). Just remember the base word of discretion: discreet. Oh, and I was lead by God to this Bible verse: "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion" (Proverbs 11:22). Basically, it says you can have beauty (the gold ring), but if you lack discretion, you don't have real beauty! Ouch! If that doesn't wake me up to the importance of discretion, then, then I doubt much else will be able to !
  4.  - Selflessness. This's the thing I really want to draw out. Modesty in actions is, for me, all about not drawing attention to ourselves, but instead pouring our pursuits into Christ and letting Him shine through us. And that's being selfless, right? Seriously, do you think Christ can shine though our actions if we just seek to draw attention to us, not Him? If we think we deserve attention, why should we and how can we be modest in our actions? I believe we (including me for sure!!) need to think less about ourselves and more of others and Jesus. Humility and selflessness are key.

  5.  - Control of behaviour. Er, pretty self-explanatory. We behave with discretion, selflessness and knowledge of God's standard of behaviour. Controlled behaviour is the result.

Now you get the gist of what modesty in actions is (hopefully!!), I'll try to describe what it looks like in everyday life. There are a few things that I think we need to put on, and some we need to put off (Hebrews 12:1, Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:8-10). First come the examples of the 'off' stuff, then the 'on' stuff.

  • Flirting. "Actions designed to attract the favourable attention of the other gender," as my mother wisely said. That's about as simple as I can put it. I think we know what it looks like, and when we do it, as Bri said. However, we must realise that it's the intentions behind the acts that make it flirting. The key part of this definition is the 'designed to attract' bit. We can do things that will attract the favourable attention of others, but are not designed for that purpose. The motive is key.
     I also think that laughing too much/hard at a guy's joke/humour is a form of flirting. I guess I view it as 'leading him on.'
    Just to clear things up, I AM NOT telling you to quit laughing or smiling at the funny things guys say. That would be silly, and hypocritical of my belief that following God is meant to be FUN (among other things). So relax; you can still have a good time with guys. BUT... I think many of us (certainly me!) can at times go overboard in our response to guys' natural humour. While it's fine to laugh at a joke, sometimes I think we need to settle down a bit. (I really hope I got that across well. It's very hard. Feel free to just think "what on earth is she talking about?")

  • Crude and inappropriate jokes/words. (Thanks again, Bri!) "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6a.) "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. "Nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk or course joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4.) Simple as that. Are crude words full of grace or wholesome? NO WAY! 

  • Laughing too loudly and being too silly. What? We laugh too loud? We can get too silly? Never!... NOT!! If we laugh too loud, we are just attracting attention to ourselves. I think we can still laugh hard, but just not overdo the volume. Same with being too silly. Careening around crazily sure draws attention. So we just need to watch that our merriness doesn't go too far. 

Now for the 'put on's.

  •  I think we need to put effort into searching and studying how God wants us to behave, just as Emily Grace said. What's better  than getting instructions straight from God!? We need to pour more effort into seeking God than seeking attention from others... actually, we shouldn't seek attention from them at all!

  • We need to remember to guard our hearts, our emotions, the inner things that need to be kept sacred. "[We should not be] haphazard and flippant with our hearts and emotions, casually sharing our most vulnerable thoughts and intimate secrets with [everyone and anyone]." ("The Lost Art of True Beauty" by Leslie Ludy; page 94.) Why would we want to 'spill the beans' to everyone around you? Sure, us younger girls may not stuggle with this a whole heap, but we sure need to keep it in mind.  This is especially the case when relating to guys. While it's OK to share deep things with your family and good friends, we shouldn't let the world (those not as close to us, including most guys) into the deepest, sacred parts of our hearts. We need to whatch what we talk about, especially with guy friends.  This is where discretion and discernment come in.
Whew! Did you really get through that post?! Round of applause for you! I hope you got something out of it. Feel free to agree or disagree in a comment. Is there anything I need to add, or take out?

Your sister in Christ,
Cassie xoxoxo

Monday, 9 July 2012

Thought life - Arrgh!

 My thought life is certainly one big area that has caused me a lot of trouble and pain, though, when it comes to being pure. You can't stop a thought coming up - consequentially, our thought life is one of Satan's biggest targets. And too often he succeeds in leading us to sin with our thoughts.

 One thing I want to make clear - your mind generates a bad thought before you can stop it. (Very occasionally, as you mature in this area, you may be able to stop a half-formed thought in its tracks.) At this point it is only temptation. If you do not quench that thought; if you do not acknowledge it as bad; if you continue to think thoughts along that line, then that is sinning. 

 Sometimes I get very discouraged about my thought life. I ask myself questions like, "Why can't I stop thinking bad thoughts?," "Why can't I get these thoughts out of my head?" and "Will I ever conquer my thought life and make it obedient to Jesus?" However, this is Satan tempting me to give it up as hopeless. So I must take courage in the power of Jesus again, and keep fighting the battle. Even King David said "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Psalm 13:2) But he also declared in that same Psalm, "trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me." (Verses 5-6, italics added by me.)

 And there's another important point - we fight a continuous battle. It will not be won in a short amount of time. Actually, our bad thoughts are part of our sinful nature, and will only die when we do. Our thought life (just like the rest of us) will not be perfect until we are resurrected for eternity.  But God tells us through Isaiah to "Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughtsReturn to the Lord our God." (Isaiah 55:7, CEV) If we stop fighting because we will never really 'win,' long term, the Devil gains a foothold and triumph after triumph. And so the battle must continue.

 If you were wondering, there are many verses in the Bible that talk about thoughts. Very few are commands; most are warnings. Here are some;

  • "You used to let the different parts of your body be slaves of your evil thoughts. But now you must make every part of your body serve God, so that you will belong completely to him." (Romans 6:19, CEV)
  • "Do not allow your weak thoughts to lead you into sinful actions." (Romans 13:14b, NLV)
  • "A man is tempted to do wrong when he lets himself be led by what his bad thoughts tell him to do. When he does what his bad thoughts tell him to do, he sins. When sin completes its work, it brings death." (Wow, pretty straight forward! James 1:14-15, NLV)

 You must notice that in this post I'm talking about thinking unhelpful, distracting thoughts (dreaming romantic dreams, etc). There are however, many other avenues of bad thoughts - thinking nasty things about others, selfish thoughts, greedy thoughts, impure thoughts, inappropriately worried thoughts, etc. There are warnings and commands about these things too; take Hebrews 13:15b for example - "Do not let wrong thoughts about others get started among you." (NLV) Now, I know it warns against nasty thoughts about others among you, but guess where this gossip starts? It starts with bad thoughts in someone's head!! 

After saying all this (you still with me?), there is one last point to make. It is very important. If you don't recognise it, basically you're doomed to lose this battle over and over again. 
 OK, I'm going to say this slow: Think of your thought life as a big hole. Satan wants to fill it with bad thoughts. You know you shouldn't be thinking that kind of stuff, so you push those thoughts out of the hole. But now you're back where you started - a big hole that Satan desperately wants to fill with thoughts disobedient to God! And just because you pushed him out once, Satan ain't going to give up that easy, let me tell you! He will keep trying to fill that hole with junk. And at some point, we're going to just let him stay for a bit. So, what are we going to do to get Satan to stay out of our hole? FILL IT UP WITH GOOD, GODLY THOUGHTS!!!!!!!!! I'm sure we all know Philippians 4:8. But have you noticed that it's in the positive? It doesn't say ''Don't think about this, this and this kind of bad stuff," it says "Think about this kind of good stuff"! When we fill up the hole of our thought life with good, godly thoughts, there is no room for Satan's junk.

Phew! Hopefully you got something out of that huge post! I really, really, really don't want to just heap guilt on you. I simply want to challenge and encourage you. PLEASE, PLEASE tell me if you feel hurt or guilty (so you just feel horrid and dirty, not challenged) after reading my post. I won't be hurt or angry; you will be doing me a huge favour. And I promise not to publish your comment. Thanks!

"We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:5b, GW)
Signing off,

Cassie xoxoxo