September 1, 2010 § 2 Comments
On Monday, August 30, 2010 our class went straight to the hard stuff in Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious (Authority, Appearance, and Appetite.) This lesson included the dreaded word ‘submission’ and I almost expected some rebuttal, but there was none.
Authority is the right and responsibility of decision-making. We discussed authority in relationship to our marriages, our church leadership, our jobs and our government.
Submission is almost a dirty word among women these days. Why? Part of the reason comes from the feminist mindset of our day. For instance, the feminist tell us that they are fighting for all women. They say that women deserve equal this and equal that. And what women would not want their rights defended? The deception is that yes, those words appeal to us, but in pursuing purity we find that God does not instruct a woman to be demanding, He instructs her to be submissive.
As I type these words, I can see all the women reading this beginning to cringe.
The matter of authority in a home does not make a woman a second class citizen, a doormat, or a less valuable person. This is the truth that the feminist deny. It is much more honorable to follow God and allow the final decision on matters of our marriages and homes be left to our husbands than it does to demand what we think we deserve.
And what do we as Christian women deserve? If we received what we deserved, we would spontaneously combust and find ourselves wandering in the darkness of Hell. We deserve nothing, but Jesus offers us everything.
This is true for all people, men and women. Submission is not a gender issue. It is a responsibility issue. This carries over from submission in our marriages to submission to our Church leadership to submission to our superiors on our jobs and to submission to our government. God is not pleased when we rebel against any one of these. God is pleased when we trust in Him.
God instructs us all to submit. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we will purify our motives and do as He did. Jesus submitted to His Father for our sakes. Are we any better than He?
A quick look at what God says about loud, demanding, argumentative women is not an appealing look. He in no way regards this behavior as honorable. A woman who understands authority is a free woman, confident of God’s protection in her life and has no need to demand her rights. She has instant access to the most high God. There is no force that can match that power and she rests confidently knowing this.
Moving on to the issue of appearance, we spoke of the women identified in Isaiah 3 and noted the behavior of these women caused judgment to come to Israel. To dress in an alluring, flashy, or sexy way tells the world we want attention and that we are not confident and free. Women who do this may not realize they are causing men to stumble in their faith. Purity here means we must be aware not to become a stumbling block to any.
It would be a worthy study to take one day and observe all instances of the impact a woman’s clothing or behavior that tempted another man from thoughts of his wife or his duties. Pursuing purity means we put away our need for immediate attention and not take part in any man looking at us instead of his wife.
On the subject of appetite, we discussed what truly defiles us. It is not what we eat; it is what we allow in our minds. We restrict what is bad for us when we want a healthy life. We should do the same in the area of our appetite for entertainment.
There are many avenues we need to discuss here. What music do we listen to? What television do we watch? What books do we read? This is all abstract. We are oblivious to harm we do ourselves by listening, watching, or reading anything that does not bring honor to our lives.
I’ve often said “I don’t need any help sinning, I do just fine all by myself.” and this is true. Why allow such things into our minds? The result is we are defiled. Because once we allow these things in our lives, we will speak of them and we be defiled.
August 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Monday, August 24, 2010, we discussed Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure (Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness.) First we briefly went over the text discussing that we are truly NOT our own, but bought with a price.
We spent much time on meandering and discussed that our minds and our time are valuable assets, that our desires should not dictate our behavior, and we should not keep company with those that are idle, talebearers, or meddlers.
This does not mean that we ignore people who do, but that we limit our exposure to them. When we do this, many find it offensive and say that we are acting like we are too good for them. The truth is that we are not good enough.
Knowing that our own sinful nature and how easily we fall into sin, we need to know that associating with those that meander, those that are talebearers or gossips, and others that meddle will result in our participation in the same behavior.
I’ve often said that I don’t need any help sinning, I do just fine in that area all by myself. We all have our own issues. If we spend time meandering and not realizing our time is a valuable asset and must be managed just like our money, we will fall into sin more often than not. Limiting our exposure to these behaviors, reduces the temptation to us join in it.
It is very much like someone who has a contagious sickness. I used the example of ‘Pink Eye’ but it could be any sickness (a cold, the flu, etc.) We need to limit our association with these people until that have recovered from the sickness.
This is why God tells us to flee from those who are caught up in it. This does not mean that these people are bad, it just means they are a danger to us while they continue in what we know we shouldn’t do.
God is so good, isn’t He? Just like we as parents instruct our children to stay away from troublemakers, God instructs us to do the same.
On the subject of modesty, we broadened the field from simple clothing to behavior and motives. Of course, we spoke of clothing. And as a general rule, if you are going for attention-getting wardrobe, then you will certainly get it. Dressing in a way that is flashy or eye-catching diverts attention from God to you. And is that what we truly want?
Women can dress appropriately and still be immodest. How? By being loud and flashy, like the woman in Proverbs 7, by flirting and flattering as we discussed last week, by not developing a sense of graciousness – these are the behaviors that reveal to the world the motives in our heart. All of them are look-at-me behaviors and in no way glorifies God.
This moved us to the subject of meekness. I regret that the class ran a little long so we didn’t spend much time on this topic. We did review and read all the verses in the ‘Pursuing the Word’ section, specifically Isaiah 66:2. What we found there was the secret of God paying close attention to our prayers. That secret is to be of a ‘poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at God’s word.’
Meandering, modesty, and meekness are obscure topics. These are not generally taught with a focus on pursuing purity. But, these are major areas in our lives that, if we follow after God’s instruction, we will know God in a deeper way.
August 17, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Monday, August 16, 2010 our class plunged into Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious (Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness.) I expected a bit of feedback on this one. To my surprise, I didn’t receive any.
We opened the class with “So, do you think flirting is a sexual sin?” One of our members offered a resounding “Yes!” and the class began. When the words ’emotional promiscuity‘ arose, we all discussed the idea that promiscuity is never good. The ‘come hither look’ given to any man (or woman for that matter) in no way points to God. It is a willful, selfish act that entices another to engage in something that cannot glorify God.
As we discussed these three topics, it was interesting to hear the various ways women flirt and flatter. We pondered the idea of how many people are dealing with sickness in their bodies because sexual sin.
As an example, we discussed Cervical Cancer. It is a disease that is caused by engaging in promiscuous sex starting a very young age. It can lay dormant for many years before a woman even knows she has it. Cervical Cancer is treatable. We discussed the new vaccine, Gardisil (preferably administered to girls ages 10-14), and whether it is wise to have our daughters vaccinated when there is a sure-fire way of not contracting this disease. The way is abstinence. For many parents this is a hard decision.
We talked of why women flirt and why it is difficult to find any teaching on the dangers of flirting, even within the Church. I mentioned my research of the vast amount websites and magazine articles that do not take a stand on the issue of flirting and how many even give advice and tips on how to successfully flirt. A very sad report on our culture. I challenged the class to take a day and notice each instance of flirting they encounter. It would be an astonishing number.
We moved on to the issue of flattery and we all took note of times where we flattered another. Like flirting, flattery is deceitful. It is manipulation. We discussed the difference between flattery and genuine appreciation. There is a vast difference. Flattery is an attempt to get something from another, a genuine compliment (as we are commanded to give to others in Proverbs 3:27) gives encouragement and honor to another.
In the section where the definition and antonyms were given, some found it particularly interesting what the synonyms for the word flattery are – pander to, brown nose, suck up, and sweet talk. These words differ from genuine care and concern.
We moved on to the study questions. It is interesting how God reacted to women and to men when emotions are concerned. In Malachi 2:13-14, we found that God hears the cry of the women who ‘fill up the altar with tears‘ from husbands who engage in treachery. And in Numbers 5, where God is establishing the ordinances to purify the people, we saw that God did not hold a husband guilty if he suspected his wife of unfaithfulness.
As a final note, I mentioned the Proverbs 31 woman. As women, we often compare ourselves to this woman and find our behavior lacking in so many ways. The number of things listed in Proverbs 31 is long. But, just as Jesus simplified the ten commandments into two (love God and love your neighbor as yourself), Proverbs 31: 11-12 simplifies the attributes of the virtuous woman. If our behavior promotes our husbands us to ‘safely trust us‘ and we ‘do him good all our days‘ regardless of whether it is deserved or not, then we become the virtuous woman.
“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
– Proverbs 31:11-12
August 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Monday, August 9, 2010, our group discussed Lesson Two. Viewing purity with a focus on the power it gives to our prayers, the protection it gives to our lives, and knowing the result which is a peaceful life (free from all the stuff that only pollutes our minds) sparked a another great discussion at the Westwood Ladies Bible Study last night.
To get us thinking about the question of ‘If a slanderous story was told about you, would people believe it?‘, I chose to make this point in a very humorous way. I found a website that allowed me to do some creative graphics and put a picture of my husband and I on the cover. The slanderous story was “Christian Couple Plot to Take Over the World.” I also put together a news article detailing the story and asked a member to read it to the class.
You can view the fake news story HERE.
Needless to say, we all got a good laugh from that one. I also noted that in that Gossip Headline cover the subtitle is “The World’s Biggest Selling Women’s Magazine.” Such stuff give all women a black eye. No one likes to be stereotyped but if a Gossip magazine sells primarily to women, then women are to blame. ‘Nuff said there.
Moving on the study questions …
We discussed what separates us from purity – desire (Proverbs 18:1) – a desire to have our own way (see Seeing the Pride in Pouting.) We discussed that just as we can tell a tree by its fruit, we can also know where our hearts are by whether we are actively pursuing a pure life (Psalm 19:8.)
It was a great conversation time. Especially when we discussed Psalm 51 realizing who it is that we sin against. We ease our conscience when we believe that little white lies don’t really hurt anyone. The truth is that sin is sin and when we sin, it is ultimately against God.
In the essay section (Pursuing the Walk), we took note that it does help to know the antonyms of words. If we compile a list of words with opposite meanings and put the two words side by side, we see the contrast. Here is a brief list: pursue/run from; purity/defilement; power/weakness; protection/vulnerability; and peace/war.
The group offered great insight into improving the study and for that, my thanks to you all my friends.
August 4, 2010 § 4 Comments
On Monday, August 2nd, we began a new six-week study called Pursuing Purity: A Bible Study for Women. This lesson includes a list of questions to stir thinking on all topics included in the Study. Below are notes from the class.
I was surprised to hear a member say that one benefit from pursuing a pure life was living without fear. This was a new perspective. I hadn’t considered the fear factor. Pursuing a life of purity does indeed remove fear.
Lesson Two: Purity in Order
(Power, Protection and Peace)
One member mentioned that if we pray the blood of Jesus our prayers are powerful and this is true. But, is it true if we are not pursuing purity in our lives? Can this limit the power of our prayers?
Another member mentioned that genuine, heartfelt prayers are powerful and this is also true. But, is sincerity enough to fortify our prayers?
We discussed protection and how pursuing a pure life will protect us. If we live unrestrained lives with no attention to purity, doesn’t that limit our protection? Sometimes God lifts protection in order for us to reap what we have sown.
Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious
(Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness)
As you can imagine, we all had comments on these topics. One member stated “I don’t know about that because I don’t do that.” which begged the response that came by another member “But you know it when you see it.”
We took a close look at flirting and flattery and discussed the distinction between them. Flirting always has a sexual component, whereas flattery may or may not. Flirting is basically sexual amusement which is sexual immorality. Flattery is deception hidden within excessive, insincere praise.
Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure
(Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness)
There was much discussion on this topic. We considered the definition of meandering being the state of wandering aimlessly from thing to thing or idea to idea. A pursuit of purity in this area would prevent a woman from becoming like those found in II Timothy 3:6-7.
Concerning meekness, this discussion carried great encouragement for the class. We spoke of I Peter 3:4 and why God considered a ‘meek and quiet spirit‘ of ‘great price.’ It is because God knows what it takes to be meek, to rule our tongues, calm our anger, and so forth.
Of modesty, we all laughed when one member recounted a visiting preacher’s comment of “Best thing to do it keep your privates private.”
Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious
(Authority, Appearance, and Appetite)
Because class time ran short, we briefly touched on this topic. We did speak briefly on appearance and appetite. How does a woman pursuing purity seem to others? In her demeanor, in her body language, in her clothing, does she appear to others as a daughter of the King?
When we discussed appetite, the discussion centered on fantasizing. Do our appetites and desires allow fantasizing that pollute our hearts?
Lesson Six: Purity in the Obedient
(Status, Satisfaction, and Substance)
Checking the pulse of the group, I made mention of the voicemail I’d received from a popular Christian Musician, and then asked “Did my status just jump up in your mind?”
Pursuing purity will refocus what impresses us. When we realize that every other person’s heart is as wicked as our own, we can honor another only when their efforts or achievements matter to God. Otherwise, we will fall into idol worship.
Finally, we one question in the ‘Into the Word’ section spoke volumes to us. II Samuel 22:27, Psalm 18:26, and Titus 1:15 all revealed to us a great truth. How we react or see God reveals the condition of our hearts. Those who see God as hostile have unsavory or hostile hearts. Those who see God as loving and just have loving and just hearts.