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Archive for September, 2013

At Titus 2 Retreats, one of the topics we discuss is modesty in clothing and behavior.  Perhaps, on behalf of our brothers, it would be best for me to share their thoughts on why modesty matters.  Please listen ~

 

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writing a letterDear Friend,

It was my hope to write much sooner.  I hope this finds you growing in the confidence of our Father’s mercy and love.

Our paths crossed for a time on this earthly journey.  Choices you were making brought suffering to your family and those you care most about.  Those choices forever changed their lives… and yours.  Perhaps the sexual sin that held you captive for too long is part of the reason why I’ve been working on a project.  A very difficult project.  A book that I’d rather not write.  The actual writing began almost two years ago, but the experiences and lessons learned over a period of nearly thirty years laid the foundation.  For now, the working title is The Failure of Christian Sex Education: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  I have no idea when the last sentence will be written or, if published, who will want to read it.  But the book begged to be written.

Over fifty years ago, those who promoted the new concept of sex education in both public and parochial schools said it was necessary to decrease unwed pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.  To parents and congregations they said, “Stop teaching so many ‘nos.’  Let us teach your children to say ‘yes’ to the wonders of sex because, after all, children are sexual, too.”  They promised: “Getting everyone comfortable with their sexuality will benefit marriage.”

All that I see proves that too many of us believe the lie that “children are sexual from birth.”  Kinsey built that lie on skewed research and criminal behavior.  He called it science.  Those of the humanist faith were waiting for such “science” to reform the whole of society, one child at a time.  But children are not “sexual” (as Kinsey meant it) from birth.  And we are certainly more than sexual beings, we are spiritual beings.  We will live forever — either with or apart from God.  The Church has forgotten to be distinctively different from the world and, in doing so, failed to encourage children and adults to see themselves as God does.  As baptized persons, we are sons and daughters of God in Christ.  That makes us holy.  Holy means being set aside for noble purpose.  We are not common, but uncommon.  As such, we are useable not just by anyone but by God.  What a difference it makes to see ourselves this way.  Sadly, the world convinces too many of us to identify ourselves as sexual beings and that — from early on — has set the stage for promiscuity, abortion, living together, homosexuality, re-definition of marriage, pedophilia, and a great deal of sin, suffering, and separation from God.  The humanists may claim some victory now, but we know Who has the final Word, don’t we?  Souls are in danger… and for that reason we need to do battle with the sinful world and our own corrupted nature even as we fall at the foot of the Cross — every day — and thank God for his mercies in Christ.

My deepest sense tells me that you know what I mean.  We modern sinners are no different from our first parents.  Eve doubted and thought she could become god of her life.  Adam failed to remember God’s Word and use it to bring order out of the chaos.  Ever since, the enemy of our lives comes to us in our weakest moments, tempting us to doubt God’s strong Word.  We think ourselves wise, but we are foolish.  We think ourselves “good” and, most certainly, we are not.  So, at the end of every day, it is a great privilege and comfort to entrust ourselves to our Savior, poor miserable beings that we are.  In the morning, all things are new and, because of His forgiveness, we can begin all over again.  You know this.  You believed this.  But wrong choices taught you how much sin hurts.  It changes lives.  Covered sin saps our strength.  It shapes us more and more into a common vessel useable by our enemy.

However, there is hope.  There is always hope!  Hope came to us in the Son of God Himself.  Harold L. Senkbeil wrote a revealing book entitled Dying to Live (The Power of Forgiveness).  It explains what the Incarnation — the Word made flesh — means for us.  Simple water, bread, wine and words work in sinful lives to make people over into new creatures.  We can’t go back to Eden.  We live in a dying world.  But God is with us!  Like Moses and Elijah, we cannot look directly at God, but God comes to us in mystery.  Senkbeil calls Jesus (who is God) the “backside” of God.  He is the part of God we can see.  He came in flesh — to teach, to sacrifice, to die — but also to conquer Satan and eternal death.  For me, this is a new way of thinking about Christ.

Consider what this means.  God comes to us in the mystery of water (Baptism), bread and wine (Communion), and His Holy Word.  Wow!  God really has come to you and me… to all who are dying to live 🙂  I think you would like what Harold Senkbeil has to say about the power of forgiveness.  May you know that power in Christ.  May I know that power in Christ.  And may we persevere — with our families and loved ones — on this journey through a strange and unfriendly land to our eternal home.  Can you imagine?  There, at the banquet table, we will be able to rest our eyes on the magnificence of God.  He will no longer have to hide His fullness from us.  We will know His glory in every way.

Your life took a dramatic and traumatic turn.  Sin never improves us but, rather, beats us up.  You have known guilt, regret and great loss of relationships.  Your family, friends and loved ones have also suffered.  But each new day is new opportunity.  The past is what it is.  We are affected by every choice that we make.  Life becomes much more difficult and painful when we fail to use the Word to bring order out of the chaos of life.  But no matter those choices and circumstances — no matter our sins, or lack of health or popularity — our identity never changes when we cling to our baptism.  We are sons and daughters of God in Christ.  Think of what this means!  We really do have hope.  New hope every morning!

May you cling to your baptism even as I will strive to cling to mine.  I am amazed that God continues to carry me.  Forgive me.  Work through me.  It is for this reason that I have grown in a deeper appreciation of the Divine Service.  God doesn’t need my praise, but this empty vessel sure needs to be filled with His Word and Sacrament.  I need to be divinely served by Him in a service distinctively different from the world… and then, in response, I can praise Him in my work, relationships and service to others all week long.  I pray that you know his Divine Service in your life so that, no matter what the days ahead may bring, you will be able to say: I am not common.  I am uncommon in the hands of a mighty God.  I am poor.  I am miserable.  I am unworthy… but I am chosen as a son of God in Christ.

May you know the overwhelming mercy that only God Himself in the humility of Christ can bring to you.  The Cross changes everything for us.  We are no longer captive to sin, but set free to leave old ways behind.  Dear friend, let us both pray for a diminished pride so that we don’t get in the way of the Spirit’s work in us, through us…

… in spite of us.

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The following excellent post is from THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT.  It’s worth the time and thought of any young woman who is contemplating marriage.

It Matters Whom You Marry

My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.

So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.

Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.

1. It will impact you spiritually. If the guy is not a believer, you can stop right there. You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change. Christ has bought you with a price and it is not an option to give away that blood bought heart to someone who doesn’t know and love your Lord. It will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children.

If the guy is a believer, is he a strong one? Will he lead you in prayer, Bible reading, family devotions, and public worship? Or will you be on your own? Is he going to make spiritual growth a priority or do other things come first? Is he going to ask you how it’s going with your soul so he can help you grow in holiness and love for Christ, or will he leave that to your pastor? Is he going to lead the children in this, or will you have to spearhead that? In church, is he going to help the kids sit well, pray, find the hymn, or will you be the one pointing out what is happening next and helping the family keep up? Many women have married spiritually immature men, thinking that it wasn’t a big issue, or that the man would change, and they were wrong. They bear the scars.

The health of your eternity is at stake. Think carefully.

2. It will impact you emotionally. Is the guy you’re thinking of going to encourage you, love you, be kind to you, and seek to understand you, or will he want to go out with the guys when you’re having a hard night? Will he listen when you are struggling with something or will he be preoccupied with a video game? Is he going to be annoyed when you cry or will he get you Kleenex and give you a hug? Is he going to going to understand that you are probably more tender than he is, more sensitive to issues and comments, or is he regularly going to run rough shod over your feelings? One woman was struggling to breastfeed her new baby, believing that that was the best thing for her, but it was very difficult. Instead of giving support and encouragement, the husband would make mooing sounds whenever he saw his wife working at it. We have to get rid of princess complexes, but we do have emotional needs. Any guy who is uncaring about your feelings and self esteem is selfish and should be left alone.

Be careful – a husband can cripple or foster emotional health.

3. It will impact you physically. Is the guy you’re with going to provide for your basic needs? Will he be able to shelter, clothe and feed you? At one point in our marriage, I was worried that there was no employment opportunity. My husband assured me that he would work at McDonalds, dig ditches, clean up roadkill – whatever it took to provide for the family, regardless of his gifts and training. That’s the kind of attitude you want. A man who doesn’t provide for his household is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). You might have to help ease the financial burden, but unless your husband is disabled or there is another unusual circumstance, you shouldn’t have to carry it yourself.

Will the man you are with care for your body or abuse it? If he gives you little smacks, kicks, etc. when you’re dating, get away. It’s almost guaranteed that he will abuse you after marriage, and stats show that’s especially true when you are pregnant. Is he going to care for and protect your body or will he hurt it? There are women in churches across America who thought it was no big deal to have little (sort of friendly) punches or slaps from their boyfriends, but who are covering up the bruises from their husbands.

Will the man you are with care for you sexually? Is he going to honour the marriage bed in physical and mental faithfulness to you or will he flirt, feed his porn addiction, or even leave you for another woman? You can’t always predict these issues, but if the seeds or practices are already there, watch out. I recently saw a newly married couple and the husband was flirting openly with another woman. Unless something drastic happens, that marriage is headed for disaster.

Is he going to be tender and gentle to you in bed? An unbelieving co-worker once told my sister that after her first sexual encounter, she had trouble walking for a few days because her boyfriend was so rough. In other words, he wasn’t selfless enough to care for the body of the woman he said he loved.

Watch out. Your body needs care and protection.

4. It will impact you mentally. Is the man that you’re thinking of going to be a source of worry or will he help you deal with your worries? Is he going to encourage your intellectual development, or will he neglect it? Is he going to value your opinions and listen to what you are thinking, or will he disregard your thoughts? Is he going to help you manage stress so that your mind is not burdened that way, or is he going to let you struggle through issues alone? Is he going to care for you and be thoughtful of you if you are experiencing mental strain, or will he ignore it? I know of a woman who could handle pregnancy and child birth very well physically but postpartum depression took a huge toll on her mind. The husband overlooked it, continuing to have more children, until his wife ended up in a mental institution.

You might think that the intellectual or mental side of a marriage is small. It’s bigger than you think. Consider it seriously.

5. It will impact you relationally. How’s your relationship with your mother? Your dad? Do you love them? Does your boyfriend? Fast forward ten years: you tell your husband that your mother is coming for the weekend. Is he excited? Disappointed? Angry? Making snide jokes with his friends? Of course, a husband should come first in your priority of relationships, as you both leave father and mother and cleave to one another. But parents are still a big part of the picture. Whatever negative feelings he has about your parents now will probably be amplified after marriage. Your marriage will either strengthen or damage – even destroy – your relationship with your parents. The people who know you best and love you most right now could be cut out of the picture by a husband who hates them.

It’s the same with sisters and friends. Will they be welcomed, at reasonable times, in your home? Will the guy who you’re with encourage healthy relationships with other women, or will he be jealous of normal, biblical friendships? Will he help you mentor younger women and be thankful when older women mentor you, or will he belittle that?

Don’t sacrifice many good relationships for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you.

So how will your boyfriend do after the vows? Because this is just a sampling of the ways that a husband can bless or curse his wife. The effects are far reaching, long lasting, and either wonderful or difficult. True, there are no perfect men out there. But there are great ones. And it’s better to be single for life than to marry someone who will make your life a burden. Singleness can be great. Marriage to the wrong person is a nightmare. I’ve been in a church parking lot where the pastor had to call the police to protect a wife from a husband who was trying to stop her from worshiping and being with her family. It’s ugly. Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you are in an unhappy marriage, there are ways to get help. But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

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The following post was forwarded to me.  Thank you, Terri!  This is wisdom from another “ezerwoman.”  This is true Titus 2 mentoring 🙂  Mrs. Hall, the mother of sons, expresses it so well that there’s no need for me — the mother of grown and married sons with sons of their own — to write something similar.  Young women wherever you are and whatever you’ve been taught by this culture: Please read this!  As for the moms of daughters (and sons), please visit Kimberly Hall’s blog “Given Breath.”

Dear girls,

I have some information that might interest you. Last night, as we sometimes do, our family sat around the dining-room table and looked through your social media photos.

We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your pajamas this summer!  Your bedrooms are so cute! Our eight-year-old daughter brought this to our attention, because with three older brothers who have rooms that smell like stinky cheese, she notices girly details like that.

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I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.

I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout.  What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize.  If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family.

Please understand this, also: we genuinely like keeping up with you. We enjoy seeing life through your unique and colorful lens – which is what makes your latest self-portrait so extremely unfortunate.

Those posts don’t reflect who you are! We think you are lovely and interesting, and usually very smart. But, we had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say?

And now – big bummer – we have to block your posts. Because, the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our sons, just as we know your parents care about you.

I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?  You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Neither do we.

And so, in our house, there are no second chances, ladies. If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent.  If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.

I know that sounds harsh and old-school, but that’s just the way it is under this roof for a while. We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.

Every day I pray for the women my boys will love.  I hope they will be drawn to real beauties, the kind of women who will leave them better people in the end. I also pray that my sons will be worthy of this kind of woman, that they will be patient – and act honorably – while they wait for her.

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Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies), RUN to your accounts and take down  anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom.

Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy.

You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out.

Act like her, speak like her, post like her.

I’m glad we’re friends.

Mrs. Hall

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