Sister to Sister: The Sultry Senior Look

blog0Is it just me or are girls’ senior portraits and graduation invitations often looking more like invitations to an old-fashioned brothel? I believe, as we have moved away from traditional draped portraits and more to casual and personalized sessions, we have sometimes given photographers license to position and coach our girls to look sleazy in those photographs for which we often pay high dollar amounts. Before you go calling me a fanatic, a legalist, or, my all-time favorite “the modesty czar-ess”, take a look at a few senior portraits that are easily found online when you google images of senior portraits. Thankfully, there are still many pictures that are innocent and beautiful. But there are more and more pictures of girls that are sultry…even suggestive.

SeniorCollage

Now that you have taken a look, let me explain that I am not writing about any of the girls I love so much at West Huntsville. They have all made godly choices about their portraits. Secondly, I want to say that I am not judging the motives of the girls who allow themselves to be photographed in poses and/or with facial expressions that suggest sensuality. I know girls who have otherwise been shy and demure who somehow come out of senior photography sessions with a CD containing pictures that, at best, look like a photographer was reaching for an inviting, sexy look and, at worst, look like a trailer for a movie that’s rated R for sexual content. You can also see that am not merely writing about inappropriate clothing. Sometimes the clothing is sufficient, but it is the posture and mood that give the photo the raunchy look.

Moms, we really don’t want our girls to understand all the nuances of what it takes to look sexy. We want them to be pure in heart and, thus, when that talented photographer asks them to make a pouty look with their lips, cut their eyes in a certain direction or position themselves “chest-out”  as they lie on a ledge (or all of this and more at one time), we really don’t expect them to know, in every case, that the picture is going to turn out to be eye candy for men who see it.

But we, as married women, know a seductive, come-on look when we see it. May I suggest that we, along with our husbands, let photographers know what we expect prior to putting our money down for that senior session? Could we also be the parents once our girls have those pictures in hand and be sure that those CDs are edited before pictures are posted, placed on invitations or even passed around?  This is both protective of our girls and loving to the good boys who are fighting a constant battle to think on things that are pure (Phil. 4:8). We don’t have to put sultry images of our sweet girls out there. So why should we?

Q&A: She-wolves Will Eat Ewe, Too!

wolfQuestion: Do you believe it’s okay for a group of women from our congregation to attend a religious seminar in which a dynamic denominational woman teacher will be saying a lot of good things, but also may teach some false doctrines?

Response: I believe this is a very bad idea for several reasons. Here are ten that come quickly to mind.

  1. I believe you will, of necessity imply that you generally endorse the teachings of this religious leader, if you take a group to hear her.
  2. I believe that you may lead those in your group who are weak and deficient in Bible knowledge to believe false doctrines that may, in the end, jeopardize their souls (Luke 17:1).
  3. I believe you will be hard-pressed to take a group without advertising the event and encouraging other women and groups of women (for example, visitors to your services or those who read your bulletins) who may be even less discerning than you are, to attend. The potential for damage may increase as a result of your advertising and endorsing.
  4. There is a good chance that false worship may occur at the seminar and those in your group will be tempted to join that false worship (Mark 7:7).
  5. There’s an abundance of good, sound teachers and materials and a shortage of time to study in groups. Why would you want to waste a morning or a day at the feet of a false teacher (Colossians 4:5)?
  6. Often attendance at these kinds of seminars requires payment for registration or admission. Your money, when this is the case, would go toward the spread of false doctrine. You would be supporting this work. (I Timothy 5:22).
  7. Those in your group who enjoy listening to a false teacher may be encouraged to read her books and study her materials (which will no doubt be advertised and available at the seminar) after having attended, thus ingesting even more of the false teaching that she has craftily woven into her teachings.
  8. A little false teaching mixed with truth is less recognizable, raises fewer red flags and thus is more dangerous to vulnerable women. She, then (the teacher) is the veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).
  9. I believe that, in many congregations, there’s a group of women who are already leaning toward a denominational mindset. To take a group of women to such an event would empower and embolden them in this mindset and in their influence. We need to be teaching sound doctrine and emboldening those who are full of the Book rather than those who are leaning toward a rejection of the New Testament pattern.
  10. We hurt the church when we lead weak sisters to drink at a fountain that spews forth unbiblical terminology, celebrates unbiblical worship and implies that opposing doctrines can all be acceptable to God and those who follow them can all be saved. Those unbiblical terms like “witnessing for Jesus in our day,”…”praying the sinner’s prayer,”… “the rapture” and “the Christmas story” will soon make their way into our congregations. Soon, our members will be unclear about why we are so concerned about authority for our worship practices and they will begin to consider those who are following various plans of salvation to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is a dangerous path to travel over to the city auditorium with a group of sisters who are supposed to be diligently watching for the Savior’s return. What if he does return while I am enjoying the dynamic speaking ability of one who is leading people eternally astray? I would further add that it is just as dangerous, if not more so, for us to study the teachings of these false teachers in our group Bible studies in our congregations. I know of several very weak congregations who are using the works (written and video) of known false teachers as the basis for their women’s studies. Excuses like “…but she is so interesting and practical,” or “…there is really not that much available in video,” are often given. Though these are, in reality, just excuses, they would not warrant the risk of souls even were they true. This practice is a grave mistake and there will be a price paid in eternity.

Teen with Attitude: The Attitude of Evangelism

WrittingRecently a preacher friend of mine forwarded the following essay written by fifteen-year-old Hannah Sexton for her humanities class. Hannah attends a private faith based school, so her peers and teachers expect her to believe in God and His Word. But, boldly, Hannah is doing more than professing belief. She is saying the unpopular things in a challenging denominational arena. Both her classmates and her humanities teacher are engaging her. They are asking questions and some, as they study, are beginning to agree with her on certain points. I do not know if any of them will ever be baptized for the remission of sins, putting on Christ, but I do know Hannah will be stronger as a result of speaking up when it would be much easier to go in silence with the denominational flow. It’s hard for me, as an adult to defend the truth about the singular nature of the church, the necessity of baptism and the tough, but required self-denial involved in repentance. I know it is difficult for Hannah to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that’s in her (I Peter 3:15). Will you resolve with me to be less like Peter when he was standing around that fire while the trial of Jesus was occurring and more like the transformed Peter of Pentecost? I’d settle today for being more like Hannah Sexton. (By the way, parents of teens, it would be a fantastic idea to share in your Family Bible Time what Hannah has written to a class full of denominational people. Then challenge your children to find one denominational friend this week. Tell them to begin a conversation with this friend by asking a question such as “I’ve been wondering what your church teaches a person to do in order to go to heaven,” or “Who was your speaker at that youth event last weekend?” or “How old were you when you ‘got saved?’” Questions like these are great study starters. Help your kids to imagine how the conversation might go from there. If 100 parents tonight get 150 kids talking to their friends about salvation this week, by next week there will be at least 10-15 teens who are, as a result, involved in Bible studies with friends. If the odds hold true, one soul will be saved as a result. That’s SAVED! You can be part of the process. Start

A key part in the book of Ephesians is Paul’s discussion and description of the word “church”. As stated in Matthew 16:18, Jesus only built one church (‘…and on the rock I will build my church…’). In the letter to the Ephesians, the church is described as the “household of God”, “the body of Christ”, and a “holy temple”. Later in Ephesians, the relationship between Christ and his church is compared to that of a husband and wife. In all of these instances and phrases used to compare Christ to His church, the word ‘the’ is used. “The household of God”, “the body of Christ”, and so on. ‘The’ is the definite article, pointing to one person, place or thing. Paul’s wording seems to indicate that there is only one true church. In the verse from Matthew referenced in the first paragraph, Christ says that He is going to build His church (singular, not plural). In Romans 12:4-5, it says that there are many members of one body, the body of Christ. This verse is easily misinterpreted to mean that all religions are correct and that all religions are members of the body of Christ, meaning that all religions are saved. However, this interpretation is not correct. There are many other verses in books such as the four gospels, Ephesians, Romans, and many others that point to there only being one church. Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” This verse explicitly states that not everyone (not even the “religious” people) will see the kingdom of God. The second part of that verse (“but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”) really stands out to me. The majority of “religious” people base their “religion” off of what they think God wants. Common phrases include, “Well, I don’t think God really means that,” or “We all worship in our own way, but it is all the same to God,” or, “It just feels right.” John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” “My commandments”; not “what I think” or “what feels right”, but “My commandments”. Back to Paul’s description of the New Testament church. His analogies are all in singular form. “The” is used repeatedly. Another interesting observation: the relationship between Jesus and His church is compared to that of a husband and wife. A husband, by Biblical standards, only has one wife. First Corinthians 7:2 says, “…Let each man have his own wife…” “Wife”: singular, not plural, indicating that there is only one wife for her husband, and only one bride for Christ. If there is only one true church, then there has to be only one way to get in. John 14:16 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 3:16 (“…and whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”) is often viewed as the only verse explicitly stating how to be saved. ‘Believe’ it says. But is that the only thing? James 2:19 says, “You believe in the one true God; good. Even the demons believe, and tremble.” If believing is the only part of salvation, then demons are going to take part in everlasting paradise. On the day of Pentecost as mentioned in Acts, 2:38 of this book, Peter says, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” James 2:17 says that faith without works is dead. According to these Scriptures, simply believing is not enough. I have never found any Biblical reference to the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ or ‘asking Jesus into your heart’, so I do not see any reason to mention these any further. If John 3:16 says that all you have to do to gain salvation is believe, but the demons believe (and they are certainly not going to heaven), then there must be another part. In every one of the examples in Acts of people being saved, they are baptized. Romans 6:4 says that baptism ‘buries us with Christ’. ‘Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should also walk in newness of life’ (Roman 6:4). So, as this verse states (and Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, and others), it is not the believing that buries our sin and cleanses us, but the baptism. In conclusion, if there is one God with one set of commandments and views, why would there be more than one church? Going back to Ephesians, in 4:4-5 is says, ‘one body, one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…’ Paul stresses that there is only one. ‘One faith’ does not leave room for the hundreds and hundreds of “churches” and “religions” that there are in the world today. As Christians who want to serve God the way He says (not in what feels good to us), it is our job to leave all personal preferences behind and to seek God’s will endlessly. We were not put here to please ourselves, but to please and glorify God in the way He says.

P.S. Next time: “Summer Six” conclusion! The last fitness challenge is in its exciting planning stage. It’s something you will want to put on your calendar FOR SURE! It’s the most exciting one of all, for me! He just keeps blessing and blessing again.

The Parable of the Talents: Part Six

Talents: Use them or Lose them!

I don’t even need to illustrate this to women. We all “used to” love to ____________. But we married, had kids, gained a few pounds, and now, we are just sure we would never be able to ____________ even if we had the time. Well, the same principle applies to evangelism opportunities, chances to be hospitable, open doors for teaching younger women and most certainly the influence I can wield for a short time on the future generations of my family through child rearing. (The shortest time of a woman’s life is the 18 years between the delivery room and the dorm room!)  I must redeem the time (Eph. 5:16) while it is afforded.

Before You Know It

It was kind of neat the other day, when Dad was being moved from the hospital to the rehabilitation facility, when we found out that the transfer officer was a distant cousin of his. She started by asking if Dad was kin to certain people to whom she was also related. I was glad before she revealed that she was related to us that we didn’t say anything negative about any of these folks. It’s like they say in some congregations: “Don’t be talking behind anyone’s back, because everyone’s kin.”

We moved on to the rehabilitation center. You meet some really quality folks in a physical therapy rehabilitation center. I’ve been a resident in a little corner of my dad’s room now for quite some time. We’re very close friends now, Dad and I. It’s kind of funny….When I’m here with him I think about all the things I really need to be accomplishing at home, but when I head toward home or on a trip for a couple of days while one of my sisters comes to stay, I immediately start wishing I was back here with Dad. I guess that will be one very good thing about heaven. We’ll get to be in every place we want to be at one time, because all of the saved will be in THE ultimate place together.

One day this past week, I was in the room with Dad and three of the staff members were in there, as well, and we were talking together. One was the head of nursing at the center, one was the speech therapist, and the third was the occupational therapist, with whom I had shared some of my materials about the Lord earlier in the day. She was commenting about how she was hoping to be able to use them in some ladies classes in her church. As we talked the nurse saw my “West Huntsville Church of Christ” t shirt. She said, “Are you a member of the church of Christ?”

Before I had a chance to get the words out, she came rushing toward me with a huge bear hug as she fairly shouted “Well, hello, Sister!” It was a fun time then, figuring out who of the same folks we knew and which of the same congregations we had visited. At that point, I was excited to give her one of my books, as well. Not wanting the speech therapist to be left out, I was able to give her one, too. I keep being amazed at how God can give us opportunities to talk about Him in the most unlikely places. Suffice it to say that, next week, I am bringing a fresh stash of books back with me.

But the whole point I was getting to is this: Inevitably some things will not be perfect in a facility like the one in which my dad has been living. That’s why we are staying pretty much round the clock with him. There are lots of overworked staff people and sometimes it takes some patience on everybody’s part to make things go smoothly. When I came to understand that this was my sister in the Lord who was in charge of the nursing staff, it made me very relieved that I had not become irate or been unkind when the breathing mask was accidentally left on for an hour after the treatment was finished or when it took a really long time for someone to come when his light was on or when I had to ask for a prescribed medication or go and purchase it myself because of a slow institutional pharmacy. Sometimes stuff like that happens and while I sometimes needed to get more complete communication or ask for attention to needs, I was glad I had always been kind and thoughtful of the shoes in which the nursing staff was walking tirelessly.

And you know what? I think this sister in the Lord was glad she had responded with tenderness instead of coldness to my requests. She had instructed her staff in a kind way, to be more attentive and careful, while she had treated me with the utmost friendliness and respect. She had welcomed me to stay with Dad on my little cot, even though, technically, the visiting hours are not round the clock. She had showed me some Christ-like hospitality, though I am “the least of these.” Fact is, she didn’t know I was one of “these” at all.

Now she does and now I know she’s my sister. Isn’t that the way it should be? In all of our interactions, even when we are on opposite sides of the fence, Christians should be people of kindness and integrity, even when we don’t know the folks with whom we are dealing. When people find out who we are and that we are His, they should say, as I did of Bonita: “I knew there was something of Christ in that person,” rather than “ Wow! I would have never known she was a Christian!”

A Tale of Two Preachers

I just experienced the most unsettling phenomenon. I have never done this before, but I quite accidentally listened to two different preachers as they preached the same outline. Both of the sermons have been distributed on CD. Both of the sermons were very Biblical. The content was pretty much the same. The passages cited were almost identical. But they were still vastly different.

I know. You are wondering how they could be different. So was I. When I realized I was listening to the same message I had already heard from another preacher very recently, I thought I probably needed to just skip this CD and move to something fresh. But then I had to keep listening, because this rendition was miles apart—not in meaning, clarity, or theological soundness; but in tone– from the first edition.

One speaker was calm, yet resolved in his intonation, while the other was fast and furious and hyper; almost screeching, at times. One speaker was respectful of those he might be engaging who were from a different background. The other spoke in a “what-are-you-thinking sort of tone of voice. One began by expressing love to those of different religious backgrounds, while the other began by acknowledging the controversy in the topic. Both were very Biblical and clear messages. But the delivery of the first made me want to send it to my non-Christian friends. The delivery of the second made me hope they do not hear it.

Point for Cindy Colley? I want to be very careful as the vessel that’s so blessed to carry the gospel to ladies in many venues. Vessels are nothing but empty containers until they are filled with something (II Cor. 4:5-7). The “something” in me is THE good news. If the “something” in me were just good news about finances, fashion, medical treatments, or ecology, then it would not be so important what kind of vessel I am. But THE good news must not be carried in vessels that distract from the contents. May I never display harshness, ridicule, or condescension when I present the message. May my goal always be to save souls and never merely to win arguments. May my tone be clear and sound, yet always loving (Ephesians 4:15). May I always just get out of the way of the cross and let His grace teach people to live soberly righteously and godly (Titus 2:11,12). A couple of verses prior to this Titus 2 verse, servants are called to fidelity that they may “adorn the doctrine of Christ.” May I adorn the doctrine I teach. May I always teach the truth, but may I present that truth in a way that will make Christian sisters want to bring their non-Christian friends to hear His doctrine. At the end of the day, may people forget about me and remember about Him.

Many times, I have reminded myself that I do not want my children to obey me because I yell. I want them to obey me because I am “mama”. I was reminded of this maxim as I listened to this second CD today. I do not want women I teach to obey the Lord, becoming a part of His church, because I’m “yelling” that message. In fact, they will not. I want them to become a part of His church because they are lost outside of it.