Archive for September, 2006

Whatever Happened to Modesty?

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Cathy, by Cathy Guisewite

The author/artist of *Cathy*, Cathy Guisewite, presents a picture of clothing styles that have become widely accepted. So often people in our culture will wear clothing originally meant as ranchwear, swimwear or sleepwear, and will wear this clothing to work, to school and to church. Often, this clothing involves top cleavage, tummy cleavage (tummy showing?) and rear cleavage, as the author also observes. Another interesting observation is that the one person seeking to dress [what I would consider] modestly and appropriately is the odd-man-out, and is viewed with amazement by others.

The Bible addresses the issue of modesty. The following verse deals particularly with women and the clothing they should wear: Likewise, {I want} women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,– I Timothy 2:9 (New American Standard Bible © 1995 Lockman Foundation).

I have heard teaching that modesty is a completely flexible thing, a subjective thing, and is to be considered within the context of what is culturally acceptable. Such teaching would only recommend that Christian women stay on the conservative side of whatever is popular.

I’m not quite sure how to articulate the thought, but I believe that there is such a thing as objective modesty. For one thing, the Bible does speak of certain parts of the body as being *less honourable* or *uncomely* (King James version of the Bible), or as *unpresentable* in the New King James version:

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,– I Corinthians 12:23 (New King James Version © 1982 Thomas Nelson)

I especially like how it sounds in this version:

And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen,– I Corinthians 12:23 (New Living Translation © 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust) (Emphasis added)

Does anyone have some excellent, Biblical material to read on the subject of OBJECTIVE MODESTY? Thank you.

Everybody Knows That You are a Godly Woman

Sunday, September 24th, 2006


And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. – Ruth 3:11 (Boaz speaking to Ruth the Moabitess) (Emphasis added.) (I think the artist gave Ruth too deep a neck-line, though. She probably should look more Arabic, too.)

Ruth the Moabitess came out of the land of Moab with her mother-in-law Naomi (an Israelitess from Bethlehem-judah) after the deaths of Ruth’s and Naomi’s husbands. Ruth was of a people abhorred by the Israelites, as we read in Nehemiah 13:1,

On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever.

This woman, Ruth, born of a hated, traditionally ungodly race, was so eminent in godliness, that Boaz said to her, “Everyone in the city knows what a virtuous woman you are.”

It seems that sometime during the time she was married to Naomi’s son, Ruth the Moabitess came to have a true faith in the Lord God of Israel. We read in Ruth 1:16,17 her words to her mother-in-law, Naomi,

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Emphasis added.)

Boaz also testifies of Ruth, mentioning her godly works and her faith in God (Ruth 2:11,12):

And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. (Emphasis added.)

From these verses from the Book of Ruth, I glean the thought that Ruth’s virtue and godliness were evident to all who knew her. There was something OBSERVABLE in her words, her behavior, her manner of dress (modest – I Timothy 2:9), and her attitudes which led people to conclude, correctly, that she was a virtuous woman.

It sometimes happens that we become defensive when someone tries to talk to us about apparent ungodliness in our lives. Rather than measuring ourselves by God’s holy standards, it can be a temptation to reply to the one who is concerned, “You can’t know my heart. How do you know that I am [impure], [selfish], [vain], [proud], [divisive], [fill in this blank with some other observable sin]? Didn’t the Lord say, Judge not according to appearance?”

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. – John 7:24.This verse does not condemn judgment of others, but unrighteous judgment of others. We must not be rash in judgment, nor make snap decisions based on very little evidence. The Lord, in His Word, says that we can know, to some degree, what is in our hearts and what is in the hearts of others, by that which is observable. Some verses which substantiate this statement follow:

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. – Luke 11:33-36 (Emphasis added.)

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. – Proverbs 20:11 (What we do does reveal something about our purity and righteousness, or lack thereof.)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? . . . Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. – James 2:14,18 (Emphasis added.)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. – Luke 6:45 (Our words do reveal, to some degree, what is in our hearts.)

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. – Matthew 7:16-20 (Emphasis added.) (This is a reality. We, mere mortal men and women though we be, may know much about the sincerity of our own or another’s Christian profession, by the fruit, the visible evidence, of the life.)

May it be said of us, as of Ruth, All the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.

The Last Days: What Does the Bible Teach?

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

On September 16, 2006 I was privileged to attend the Pacific Northwest Reformation Conference at the Lynden United Reformed Church. The theme of the conference was The Last Days: What Does the Bible Teach? Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, President of Westminster Seminary California and professor of church history, spoke on the topic “Jesus Our Prophet: Matthew 24”. Following is a synopsis of Dr. Godfrey’s lecture, taken from my notes.

Matthew 24 is a prophecy pronounced by our great Prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ. The setting for this prophecy is the Temple of God, as is described for us in the first three verses of the chapter:

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Matthew 24:30,31 seems to be a clear description of Christ’s second coming:

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The difficulty of interpreting this passage is evident when one reads verse 34:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Dr. Godfrey first defined three erroneous interpretations of Matthew 24.

Error 1 – The Futurist Option

According to proponents of the futurist option, all of Matthew 24 still is awaiting fulfillment. The futurists take verse 34, “this generation”, to mean that the Jewish race will not pass away until all these things come to pass. Proponents of this view include some Dispensationalists and Harold Camping, who teaches that the age of the church is past, and that Christians should leave the organized church.

Error 2 – The Preterist Approach

The preterist believes that the prophecies of Matthew 24 have all already been fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. A problem for the preterists is found in verses 30 and 31 of Matthew 24, since the Son of man (Christ) has not yet come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The preterist reading of Matthew 24 is not natural, but contrived.

Error 3 – The Double-fulfillment View

According to this view, there is a sense in which all of Matthew 24 has already been fulfilled. However, in a sense, some of Matthew 24 yet remains to be fulfilled. Proponents of this view note that the prophecy of Daniel had both present and future fulfillments. Since Daniel and other Old Testament books often present types and shadows of New Testament occurrences, a double fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is expected. However, we have no example of a New Testament prophecy having two fulfillments.

Correct Interpretation

To properly interpret Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24, the context in which He speaks must be understood.

In Matthew 23:37,38, Christ pronounced words of woe and condemnation to the hypocritical leaders of Israel:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

For generations, one people and one land had been at the center of God’s redemptive work. Now, Christ proclaims that it’s over for Israel. Christ had just pronounced this woe against the Jews when, ironically, His disciples, overcome with Jewish pride, point out to Him the beauty of the temple (Matthew 24:1). In response to His disciples in Matthew 24:2 Christ reiterates the woe, telling them that the temple days are over:

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

The disciples then proceed to ask Christ two questions:

1. When will the temple be destroyed? (Tell us, when shall these things be? – Mt. 24:3a)

2. What will be the sign of Christ’s second coming? (And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? – Mt. 24:3b)

In the remainder of Matthew 24, Christ speaks of these two events, answering the two questions asked by His disciples. Part of the time, Christ talks about when the temple will be destroyed. Part of the time, Christ talks about His second coming. Christ is also intent that the disciples remember what they should believe and how they should live in the present time, for He warns in Mt. 24:4: Take heed that no man deceive you.

In Matthew 24:5-14 Christ gives a list of things that shall occur before His second coming. This is the way things will be on earth until He returns. These things are not measurable or dateable:

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

In Matthew 24:15 Christ switches topics to tell His disciples a sign which will precede the desecration of the Temple:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) . . .

This desecration did take place when the Romans offered pagan sacrifices in the holy temple.

It is very possible that the great tribulation spoken of by Christ in Mt. 24:21 refers to this time of the destruction of the temple. It is certainly true that there have been times when more people have died in times of suffering, but this time is especially noteworthy because it marks the failure of Israel. The greatest tragedy of all time is the betrayal of God’s own Son by God’s own people. With the destruction of the temple, the old economy of God’s special relationship with the Jews ended. Whenever Christ says, “all these things”, He is speaking of the destruction of the temple.

In Matthew 24:23-28, Christ’s warning to His people is, “Don’t be deceived.” “Don’t worry about missing My second coming, because it will be visible and compelling.” One thing we do know about the second coming of Christ is that no one can know the day or the hour, and it will be an hour that we don’t expect. Christ states in Mt. 24:36, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. His exhortation to us is, “Be ready.” Matthew 24:42,44:

Watch therefore: for ye know not that hour your Lord doth come . . . Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Two things are important for us:

  1. Don’t be deceived by a false teacher.
  2. Be ready. Be faithful, and live a life committed to God now.

Nehushtan – “A Piece of Brass”

Sunday, September 10th, 2006
2Kings 18:1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
2Kings 18:2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
2Kings 18:3 And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.
2Kings 18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

In Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the entry for Nehushtan states:

Of copper; a brazen thing, a name of contempt given to the serpent Moses had made in the wilderness ( Num 21:8), and which Hezekiah destroyed because the children of Israel began to regard it as an idol and “burn incense to it.” The lapse of nearly one thousand years had invested the “brazen serpent” with a mysterious sanctity; and in order to deliver the people from their infatuation, and impress them with the idea of its worthlessness, Hezekiah called it, in contempt, “Nehushtan,” a brazen thing, a mere piece of brass ( 2Ki 18:4).

Numbers 21:8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Numbers 21:9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

At one time, Moses was commanded of God to make the brass or brazen serpent, and the Lord blessed it to the people as a means of healing. When the people idolized the brazen serpent, godly Hezekiah called it Nehushtan, and was commended for destroying it.

As an application, I take the idolizing of means of grace, such as historical vows, to be a snare to God’s people, as the old brazen serpent made by Moses became to the Israelites. One means of grace to God’s people is the swearing of covenants which more specifically bind to duties. These public social covenants, which are an aid to performing duties, are of great use, as long as they may be used. But when circumstances have changed to such an extent that men can no longer keep them, they must not be idolized, and made to be more than what they are. They are not a representation of God’s covenant of grace. They are not Scripture. They are MEANS OF GRACE.
In the Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 22 Of Lawful Oaths and Vows, Section 3, we read:

Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act; and therein to avouch nothing, but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet is it a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.

The Scripture proof for the italicized portion is Genesis 24:2-9, in which Abraham holds his servant responsible to bring home a wife for Isaac only if the woman is willing to leave her homeland and travel to the land of Canaan. He does not bind the servant to perform that which is impossible.

Nehemiah 5:12 Then said they, We will restore [them], and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.

It was not enough that the priests made a vow. They had to actually be able to do what was promised, and then do it.

Career Guidance

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

As our children grow and move toward independence, we and they think much about future work for them. Through the years we have hopefully been noticing unique talents and abilities, and have been encouraging them to work diligently to develop those talents.

Children are not *one-size-fits-all*, but differ from one another in gifts, abilities, interests and challenges. We as parents should certainly focus on our children’s moral and spiritual development, as is stated in the following Bible verse.

Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

However, this verse also seems to indicate that the child should be trained up in the way he should go. He has a specific way that is best for him to go.

The following article is one about discovering one’s gifts and interests, and pursuing them. I really liked it, and hope you do, too:

True and Real

By Mac Anderson

You can’t fake passion. It is the fuel that drives any dream and makes you happy to be alive. However, the first step to loving what you do is to self analyze, to simply know what you love.

We all have unique talents and interests, and one of life’s greatest challenges is to match these talents with career opportunities that bring out the best in us. It’s not easy — and sometimes we can only find it through trial and error — but it’s worth the effort.

Ray Kroc, for example, found his passion when he founded McDonald’s
at the age of 52. He never “worked” another day of his life.

John James Audubon was unsuccessful for most of his life. He was a terrible businessman. No matter how many times he changed locations, changed partners, or changed businesses, he still failed miserably.

Not until he understood that he must change himself did he have any shot at success. And what changes did Audubon make? He followed his passion. He had always loved the outdoors and was an excellent hunter. In addition, he was a good artist and, as a hobby, would draw local birds.

Once he stopped trying to be a businessman and started doing what he loved to do, his life turned around. He traveled the country observing and drawing birds, and his art ultimately was collected in a book titled Audubon’s Birds of America.

The book earned him a place in history as the greatest wildlife artist ever. But more importantly, the work made him happy and provided the peace of mind he’d been seeking all his life.

This article was excerpted from The Dash Gift Book by Linda Ellis and Mac Anderson reprinted here with permission. You may share this story as long as you do not edit the content and leave all the links active. ~ Thank you ~