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Archive for the ‘Cultural Matters’ Category

Insecurity. It’s a word that’s often used to describe a common condition. It’s a watered down way to talk about a problem of the heart: lack of trust in and focus on God. I know that guys may deal with insecurity, too. But I want to specifically address girls and insecurity over their appearances.

Most girls today are unhappy with the way they appear. Like it or not, we’re bombarded with images of perfect-looking models with great figures, creamy complexions, smooth, silky hair, and straight, white teeth. No wonder we feel insecure! But my question is: why do we want to have these things? I find that for myself, the answer is often to win the favor and approval of man (gender neutral). Any desire to be beautiful must stem from a heart motive of glorifying God. And honestly, I don’t think that having shinier hair or an hourglass figure will help me glorify God more.

It’s so easy to be insecure. Maybe you wonder if any guy will ever want to marry you, since there are so many prettier girls out there. Maybe you wish you had a better figure and could wear that oh-so-cute top that you saw on the mannequin in the mall. However, when it comes down to it, realize that insecurity about appearance stems from a desire to please man and not God. And that is sin.

The Solution: Trust and Gratitude

This doesn’t mean you can’t wear makeup or attractive clothing. On the contrary, you can dress beautifully and modestly. We should ensure that our appearance is presentable, but that it is also that which befits a godly woman. From Creation, it is evident that God loves color and beauty!  But the most important thing is having a beautiful heart, and that comes only from a secure faith in God. Are you trusting in God with your appearance, with your money, with your future? Are you thankful for what He has given you? And are you careful in not using your beauty to cause men to stumble? Are you spending too much time or money obsessing over clothes? Is working on your appearance making you late to events? There is such thing as a good amount of time, money, and effort as far as wardrobe, make-up, and hair go. And it may be different for each of us. It is important to routinely perform a “heart-surgery” (as one of our pastors says) and prayerfully evaluate the time, money, effort, and worry that you put into things such as make-up, clothes, hair, and exercise.

As Shakespeare eloquently states, “…rosy lips and cheeks within [Time’s] bending sickle’s compass come…” Outward beauty may not last forever, but beauty that comes from a heart that trusts sincerely in God will last. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Enjoy the beauty God has given you! Be content with your appearance. I don’t mean a reluctant contentment, but a joyful, sincere, gratitude to God for what He has given you, and also, what He has given to others. You can’t be grateful and envious at the same time! Nor can you be grateful and complaining at the same time. God created us beautifully, knitting each part together deliberately (Psalm 139).

In desiring to please God, we must talk to Him about our struggles. Ask Him for help in managing what He has given you well and to His glory.

Confidently rest in Christ’s work for you on the cross and continual mercy and grace in your life. Joyfully thank Him for everything! Then, you will find true security- security that a perfect complexion or gorgeous hair can never give.

Resources

Here are some resources that have helped me in my struggle with appearance insecurity:

-Check out both of these Boundless articles that can be found here and here.

-Check out the Girltalk Beauty Section for thought-provoking, Gospel-centered articles.

-Download Carolyn Mahaney’s talk, “True Beauty.” It’s well worth the money!

-Listen to the episode of Albert Mohler’s radio show, “The Nature of True Beauty in Confused Times.”

And, most importantly, continue studying Scripture and knowing your Savior better. It is by gazing and focusing on Him that we truly stop obsessing over ourselves.

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Before reading this, you should read this post from Beauty from the Heart. Very thought-provoking!

I was visiting Beauty from the Heart recently (one of my favorite sites, if you haven’t already figured that out!) and read their post entitled, “Overbearing Daddies and Magazines That Care.” It talks about how a certain teenage magazine thinks that a father protecting his daughter’s purity is, well, bizarre and grossly restrictive.

Reading about this, I was once again saddened by the way our culture takes the truly beautiful and makes it look undesirable (such as purity and faithfulness to your future husband, while it takes the truly undesirable (ungodly) and makes it appear beautiful (such as adultery and fornification).

Then, I realized that it’s not just our culture. It’s been going on since sin entered God’s creation. You see, one of the first deceptive tricks used by Satan on Eve was making the undesirable- the forbidden- appear beautiful. He made the beautiful- walking with God and trusting and obeying Him- appear undesirable. Satan made Eve question her Creator’s goodness.

“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:4-6

We know the results of Adam and Eve’s taking of the fruit: banishment from the Garden, banishment from fellowship with the Lord, their Creator. And we know the happy ending to the story: redemption in Christ by the grace of God and work of the Holy Spirit. Until the Lord takes us to Heaven, though, we still live in a fallen, sinful world. And Satan still uses the same trick to tempt us into sinning. He makes us question God and what God has told us is beautiful.

Our sinful world (and culture) also gives us this deceptive message (I John 5:19, James 4:4). We are told that it is much more beautiful to be a seductive woman than to be a pure woman. Because what is purity anyway? Just some crazy set of rules to keep us from having fun?

See, our loving Heavenly Father knows the ramification for sin. We do, too. We can read about the Fall and see how it brought pain, suffering, death, separation from the Lord. Sin destroys.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15

From this verse, we see that sin comes out of our own hearts- our own desire. Our hearts are so corrupt that we have no hope of overcoming sin and knowing what is true and what is false. We must constantly look upward to the One who gave us life, reading His Word and thus filling our minds with a different message than the one the culture is giving us.

Then, knowing God’s truth, we must trust and obey Him, even when our culture thinks we’re being foolish, even when our own hearts object.
The Lord, our Heavenly Father, has something better than what this world promises. Can you wait? Can you trust? Can you obey?

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The Little Ones

Sunday was Sanctity of Life Sunday, a Sunday when we are reminded about the horrors of abortion. We pray for an end to abortion. We also take time to pray for ministries that are devoted to helping pregnant women (and families), encouraging them to keep their child, giving them the facts about abortion, and sharing the Gospel with these women.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a difficult time considering nursery work a joy and a privilege. I prayed for my selfishness. In answer to my prayer, the Lord reminded me what an incredible privilege it is to have a nursery full of healthy, beautiful babies. How amazing that these babies were, by God’s grace, not aborted! How wonderful that so many of these little ones can grow up in Christian homes with loving parents who live out the Gospel before them! And how insanely blessed I am to be able to hold, and teach, and rock them for a little while! Needless to say, that evening as I worked in the nursery, I was grateful just to hear a baby’s cry. Their little voices, just learning to talk, brought tears of joy to my eyes. I am thankful for God’s work in their parents’ lives, and the work He will do in the lives of these and other children.

According to the National Right to Life, one baby is aborted every 25 seconds in the United States. That’s two precious hands that will never curl around a mother’s fingers. That’s one little mouth that will never smile, laugh, or cry. That’s two little legs that will never take first steps amidst excited clapping. Every twenty-five seconds! See, for every two babies born, another baby dies in an abortion (source: Tennessee Right to Life). That means for every two children I read to in the nursery, another one has been aborted.

This is terrible! I am continually horrified at the wickedness of our culture, the wickedness in my own life. However, I must also be continually grateful for God’s work in my life, and in the lives of others. Praise the Lord for each little hand, foot, mouth, eye, and nose! Praise the Lord for His love for children and His providence for them! I think that the matter of abortion causes two responses.

First, we must take action. Be continually in prayer for an end to abortion. Volunteer time, money, or needed items to an organization that helps pregnant mothers and mothers of newborns. And we must stand up for the lives of the defenseless!

Second, truly appreciate and love each little child God brings into your life. Be thankful for the life of each child you know; each one truly is a gift from God. Let us show the darkened world around us that children are a blessing, not a curse. Let us love the children and their parents with the love of God. There is so much to be thankful for, even in the dismal matter of abortion. We should be thankful for the parents who adopt, the ministries that love and share the Gospel with pregnant women, and the work God has already done to show His glory in this matter. And may He work through us to bring an end to this dreadful mass murder of precious, unborn children!

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