Posts tagged Jesus
So sure. Miley’s performance was disturbing. But where is the equal uproar about Lady Gaga’s thong? Maybe it is right next to Beyonce’s buxom cleavage, which is right next to Britney’s belly button piercing, which is right next to Madonna’s pointed bra. I guess we should throw Pink’s pushing-the-limits videos in there too just for good measure. If you ask me, Miley was just trying to keep up with the big girls. These daring divas cast long shadows of perversion, seduction and distorted womanhood, so Miley had to show she was willing to do anything to join the club.
Are any of us really surprised? Just like Apple rolls out its “all-new” tech masterpieces, the music industry is constantly on the search for its new Femme Fatale. Not familiar with that expression? Fatal Woman. 1. A woman of great seductive charm who leads men into compromising or dangerous situations.
We’ve seen many such transformations as in Madonna’s Like a Virgin. We saw it when Britney shed her Catholic school uniform. And now Hannah Montana has become Slutty Cyrus. But we knew this right?
We live in a culture where women are products defined by their s-e-x appeal. They are for consumption as long as their beauty, audacity, and plastic surgery holds up. This is no surprise.
What does surprise me why we look to them for inspiration…who’s responsible for that?
What I am challenging is our discernment. There is evil in this world. This evil has one desire: to destroy the image of God. In the man. In the woman. No surprise.
Miley’ s performance (as well as others) is an example of destroying the image of both men and women. A good looking man imitating sex with a good looking woman. No love. No thought. No soul. No commitment. Just sex. This being the sum total of life. It was desperately clear in the way Miley kept addressing her crotch. It was as if she was saying: “Please notice my vagina. My value is based only on what I am willing to do with my vagina.”
Think that is a distortion of our God identity?
So how then shall we live? Like panicked hermits, sheltering our kids and husbands? Or, like judgmental finger-pointers who slander or, perhaps worse, pity these women/ products? Such entertainers have made deliberate choices and profited from them. Our responsibility is to connect the dots with Miley and with Jesus when he asked, “What does it profit a [woman] to gain the whole world but lose [her] soul?” (Mark 8).
How about we take cues from Daniel? Daniel was stolen from his family when he was in his teens. That means, up until that time, his parents had been soaking him in God’s truth, God’s love and faithfulness. So when he was ripped from their care, Daniel was still able to think, discern, choose God’s ways in the middle of a culture that was more even evil than ours is today. Daniel worked for the wicked king, yet he lived a distinct God life right in the middle of a perverse kingdom. He didn’t excuse it or join it. He didn’t run from it. He brought God into the middle of it. His divine courage and wisdom is a model for us today.
We may be offended by Miley, Lady Gaga or the others, but we don’t look to them for inspiration or motivation anyway. ( Do we?) Daniel didn’t expect his coworkers or boss to be the model for godliness. He depended on God to be in him and work through him. His life is one powerful story after another of God showing up. Daniel completely changed the world, for good, by following God. In the same way today, we look to Jesus for His power, His definition.
Loving God means something. You see different. You think different. You choose different. Living in the Spirit empowers you to see and stand for the Kingdom of God, even when the world wallows in its own vomit. We don’t get sucked into the world. We pull the world toward Jesus. Like Daniel, we bring the goodness of God into this mix. We stand for truth about who we really are as God’s people. We tell our daughters in detail what these rank role models are doing and why…selling their body and their soul for some sense of power and fame. We tell our children how to avoid the same pitfalls in their own lives and give them better goals to aim for.
They can be seductresses or they can be warriors in the kingdom. I bet, if you tell them the truth, they will see real power and choose God.
I recently posted a very articulate video on the origin of the bikini and its less than desired result for empowering women. (Jessica Rey and the Evolution of the Bikini. http://youtu.be/WJVHRJbgLz8 ) The bikini’s history and the current status of billions of dollars in sales is astounding. Confronting. Worthy of consideration. And yet, I must confess, while I loved her thoughts and challenges—uhm, I hated her modest swimsuits. At least for me. Why? Because I hate tan lines.
It’s crazy, I know. Don’t judge me. Most of my friends have no issue with tan lines. But alas, I do. Joie de vivre. Right?
Before I begin let’s clarify. I am not the bathing suit police. I have my own contradictions to wrestle, as you will soon see. Yet, here are some thoughts about the bikini’s affect on young women, and men.
I vividly remember being in Florida in my twenties. I was by myself, so no peer pressure, and I was there for one purpose, tanning. I was also in the best shape of my life. So my itsy, bitsy bikini, consisting of approximately four triangles and some string, was simply functional for me. Not tempting, not immoral, just functional. Until.
Until I went to the snack bar without putting on a cover up. I was suddenly conscious of eyes on me. A lot of eyes. Men’s eyes ravaged my body, and women’s eyes sneered in distaste. It wasn’t that I was so captivating, but that I was so BARE.
I had not seen myself the way I was now being seen—nearly naked.
It took me years of studying male-female reactions, a relationship with Jesus, and having daughters of my own to understand what happened that day. The short version? The female form carries a lot of power. It’s a God thing and a good thing. And it’s under attack.
As Ms. Rey stated, women have the power to be treated as objects or to the power to reveal their dignity. This is an all but lost notion among mothers as well as daughters. She also went on to explain that OUR choices affect men negatively, which causes a chain reaction of men viewing us negatively. The bikini is a big factor in this dance.
For some girls, bikinis start young. “They are just little girls, it doesn’t matter” I often hear moms say. Their logic is little girls have no breasts, no awareness of their future allure, so their bodies are in neutral. However, the reality is year after year they teach little girls that it is normal to be nearly naked in public. This normal produces a cluelessness about their personal power and a lack of knowledge of how to protect it when breasts and hips do arrive on the scene.
For some girls, moving into a bikini is a sign of maturity. For me as a preteen, the mark of becoming a woman was wearing a bikini and filling it out. As women floated past in their lycra underwear, my friends and I understood it to be a rite of passage. A next level. A mark of beauty.
What’s even more disturbing was the unspoken female agreement: fat women don’t wear bikinis. Thin women do. The problem was (and is), how thin do you have to be to be in a bikini? The following years for us as blossoming women were filled with striving and shame over wanting minimal tan lines but still needing to have the “right size” to wear a bikini. This thought lingers on.
Fast forward to some much needed maturity, (whew), some new perspectives on beauty, and the dawning revelation of the power of a woman’s body.
Over time I realized that the cute girl in the bikini was not just getting the admiration of her guy friends, she was also getting gawked by every male she passed. Eeww. She either didn’t know it, or fed off of the buzz of male attention. But I began to question, is this the sum total of her beauty? To have a guy consume her visually?
My last beach trip made me sick. The new ‘brazilian’ bikini bottom made its debut. So while the lovely woman posed casually with her friends, half of her arse hanging out of her suit, the bar full of men nearby were crudely discussing the need for additional Viagra pills.
Is this the empowered woman we are all working so hard for?
Who is the culprit? The men who treat her as a sex object? Or the woman for presenting herself as one?
This beauty things keeps rearing its ugly head (no pun intended). And it’s not a quick answer. With friends at the pool the other day we did a highly UN-scientific survey. We looked at several females in bikinis and noticed a striking difference in our reactions. From flat line to wow factor.
Fit mom in bikini running after two kids. No problem. Not much excitement.
Sort of fit sixty year old in modest bikini. Nada.
Overweight teenager in a bikini with lots of belly and thigh action. Not so much.
But the off-duty svelte lifeguard, bronzed and firm, flashing her tini-kini? Yep the whole audience, male, female, young and old watched her as she strolled by.
What is that? Brainwashing? Years of telling us what beauty is, or is not? Maybe. But it is Reality for sure.
So what the heck am I saying? Here comes the hard part for me personally. I don’t like how I view bikinis based on beauty. I hate it, in fact. The rules seem different depending age and stage of life. They seem more dangerous when the woman is using her body to say, “I am so available.”
When I go to the beach, surrounded by strangers, I find I have disqualified myself so I think I can wear whatever, within reason, as long as I am sitting down and not parading the shoreline. Yes I am beautiful, but I have no pressure, or desire, to gather attention. Great. Happy tanning for me.
What about my beautiful daughters? The developed one, and the one on the way?
Do I want a boy, man, male lusting after my daughters? No. (God help these men…)
I started my girls out in one pieces. And now, they wear one pieces by choice. I’m glad for that. They will have to navigate this as they get older. But for now, it seems “unnatural” for them to go out in public in less clothes than their underwear, which they rightly hide in behind closed doors. My daughters are more modest, and self- honoring that I was. I’m glad for that too.
Here is the crux of the issue. Our bodies are the temple of God. They are to bring HIM glory. Not a cheap thrill.
If a woman wants a man to take her seriously, maybe she should start with herself? Does she take herself seriously? Does she own and value the beauty she carries? Does she honor herself in a way that is not easy pickings?
Moms are we teaching this to our daughters?
Just because guys like to look, doesn’t mean they get a free peep show.
And what about the responsibility we have to our brothers of all ages? Do women understand how and why to honor them with what we wear?
It seems to me that while we are busy criticizing the men for being animals, we might want to see who is hanging the fresh meat in front of their faces…
Let’s help our daughters become more than bait.
My friend Kate looked kindly at me. “Rest is a good thing. God has created all of creation to rest. Day and Night. Seasons. Even the human body needs sleep every day. It’s God’s idea. His design,” she said.
“I know but it feels like I’m doing something wrong if I can’t do all I am supposed to do.” I said, my eyes stinging with tears.
“All I am supposed to do… Hmmm. Says who?” she said with a smile.
This conversation took place a couple of months ago. It became a catalyst for a life altering revelation from the Lord. What’s ironic is that He started the Rest conversation probably three years ago. I see now it is a growth area that He simply won’t stop talking about. Which means it is really, really important to Him, which means it is really, really important to us.
Lesson One: Years ago, a group of older women were laying hands on me and praying. Two of them kept saying that I didn’t know how to rest. In my highly spiritual state, I got offended.
Ding. First sign you are a performance junkie is to get defensive when someone tells you are too busy. I complained to the Lord as they were praying, “God I am trying to do all you have called me to. Are you mad at me? Is this not enough? Am I not doing it right?”
His response was to teach me how to “rest in the presence of the Lord.”
Revelation One: Rest means there is a confidence deep in our soul that God is with us, hears us, responds to us, loves us. This “resting place” becomes our starting point. Ground Zero. We build life on this foundation. All that happens good or bad begins with this one truth: God loves me completely all the time. When we settle this issue, what follows is a quiet assurance, a resting, in the our spirit. Otherwise we strive, worry, defend, blame, or run from God. Rest means we can’t run from Him. We are built on Him.
Lesson Two: Two years ago I was at the beach soaking in His presence. I asked God how I could maintain the richness of our connection once I got home to routines and demands.
“You must reorder your life,” He said, plain as day.
This comment created an awareness of how a) my stuff owns me, b) my to-do list, email, FB, and pleasing others is more of a priority than my God connection and c) my Drive-thru Christianity could not satisfy the deeper hunger in my spirit.
His response was to teach me how to surrender my ways to His ways.
Revelation Two: Rest requires, no demands, a deeper understanding of God. I like to think of myself as a God lover. But when God told me to reorder, I saw how Un-Jesus my life really looked. So reordering meant saying no to doing a 1000 things at once, purging possessions, risking reputation, forcing my schedule to serve me, instead of me being a slave to my calendar. Rest has meant truly “seeking first the Kingdom of God” and all the other things have been added. Or not.
I don’t want to blow past this. The Roman Empire was as busy as the American Empire is but Jesus maintained His peace and joy. He invites us into the same kind of God Life as we live our lives. We don’t get bonus point for being exhausted, nasty, booked-up believers. What pleases the Father is when we look like His Son. Period.
Lesson Three: All this brings me to a couple of months ago when I had lunch with my friend Kate and then dinner with my friend Dana. I told each of them about my exhaustion, my lack of motivation, even to be candid, my irritation. I didn’t understand what was happening in my heart although I had gone through this reorder and focus on the Lord. Thank God for godly friends. Through them, I saw that I had just completed one of the most outpouring seasons of my life. It was all done by God, for God and in God. But now it was time to… Really? They both said the “R” word.
Again? Still? I am still working on Rest? I saw that I had made great progress.
Resting place? Check.
Replenish? Uh, say what? I still had missing pieces.
His response was to teach me that rest is about starting, not just stopping.
Revelation Three: Rest isn’t just not doing things that cause stress or fatigue. It is about adding in those things that feed our heart, soul, mind and spirit. The word Sabbath came up in a brand new way. Not the living under the law kind of Sabbath. But a God-given breather, mini-vacation, refresher kind of Sabbath.
Let me ask you these questions. Try to write out your answers.
What do you do that makes your heart soar?
What brings joy to your soul?
What delights you?
What do you do that’s fun?
If you are like me, you might be staring dumbly into space. I had to discover these answers. But let’s suppose you can actually formulate answers, so let me ask you this. Do you do any of these on a scheduled, committed basis? Rest comes when these things are in place. Don’t have time? Then reorder.
Joy, delight, fun are kingdom words. They are child-like words. We don’t get points for being grown ups all the time. Jesus called us to become like little children. To laugh, to play, to enjoy, to be excited over the smallest things. This may be our greatest act of worship. Maybe that is why rest is so important to God. And to us.
It is too many thoughts to pack into a couple of paragraphs. But one word worthy of sharing is…rest. I used to be woefully bad at it. I was formerly ignorant of its meaning. But all that is changing. Let me just say that I have read three novels, have a book called “Play” on my bedside table, and I have already been in the pool playing with my kids.
Rest is a holy word.
It is rich with meaning and it actually implies action. Replenish. Delight. Release. Trust. Enjoy. Stop. All these are actions that come from rest.
I will unpack all this later, but for today, I just wanted to give you a head’s up that Jana, and WGR for that matter, is going to look a little different. Cooking videos are coming. Why? Just because they are fun. Blogs are coming just because God is bubbling up in me. Worship is coming because at our core that is the point of this whole thing called life.
So watch for us and watch out for change….It’s gonna be great.
“From what I hear it sounds pretty great,” said this beautiful teenager. She was talking about some of her friends who had already taken the plunge into having sex. “It is the social norm, you know” she said plainly.
My mind exploded with images, stories, statistics. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a sexual minefield and this young woman was standing on the opposite side. Somehow, somehow, my job was to tell her how and why to walk through this minefield without blowing herself up.
“It is great, perhaps for the moment,” I said, recalling the rush of his attention, the allure of the distorted desire. “But there is more, so much more.”
For those of us who didn’t wait, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” However. If we are deep down honest, now we know the truth. So we dare not water down the truth to assuage our own disappointing choices.
Wise not Happy
A lot of girls give in to sex to “be happy.” They think it will make them happy. But more often it is about making someone else happy. Happiness via sex is like the crocodile in Peter Pan—once the taste is awakened, there is a hunger for more. And more. We are not shooting for happy right now in this moment. We are shooting for wise, which is a much harder but a much greater goal. We ask much harder questions:
Is this surrender of control over my own body wise?
Does this advance MY goals, not the guy’s wants, or my friends’ pressure?
I told this young woman, “in all my work with women I have never met a woman who didn’t regret giving her virginity away for nothing.” There is a really high cost and a really high risk.
Whether we like it or not, the woman bears the brunt of sex. Whether through loss of reputation, getting a disease, losing scholarships due to pregnancy, or facing single parenting, adoption (or even abortion), the woman has the most to lose. She must be the wise one to rise up and protect her heart and future.
Trading a $1 for a Million Bucks
“Sex is a trusting God issue,” I explained. She looked at me with a shocked expression. When we give into some temptation outside of God’s design, we are settling for the lesser payoff. For example, let’s say sex now is worth a dollar and in marriage worth a million dollars. That one dollar bill right now looks good. And so we think, “Hey, one dollar now is better than nothing.” But there is the lie. It’s not nothing, it’s just later on.
God has promised abundance and favor when we do things His way. He promises a million bucks of freedom, hope and connection in marriage. Do we trust that He will really come through? Do we trust that God has good for us, later on? Can we trust God to satisfy our desire, right now in the waiting? One dollar vs. one million.
Sex with others doesn’t just go away. The memories can hurt for a long time, even the good memories. How many women, and men, have found themselves unable to be truly intimate with their spouse because of past sexual encounters? By truly intimate I mean God-powered, heart-connected, physically-abandoned sex. Spirit, emotion and body sex—this is what God has in mind. Our choices to gratify ourselves for the moment really distract from the longer sexual journey inside marriage. It takes a lot of work to get rid of the memories, comparisons, and shame once we finally meet our husbands.
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
As my mind flashed around memories, and even scanned the hard journey of my own marriage, I found I didn’t know how to express one thing: the regret. I took a deep breath and began.
“I don’t know that you can hear this, but there comes a moment after you meet the man of your heart. It may be right away, or sometime later, for me it was after I became a Christian, but this wave comes over you and you realize that this is God man’s for you. In that moment, you look at the ones who have gone before. They took what rightfully belonged to your husband. There are all these ‘one and only first times.’ And you realize, you gave those to someone else. It really breaks your heart. Can you see why wise now is better than happy now?”
Enjoy the best of Jesus
I asked this young Christian if she knew there is an anointing on the present generations for increased power and worship? She said yes she did and so did her friends.
I think the enemy knows that too. That’s why he is unleashing his greatest tactics to keep young women and men preoccupied by all the sexual stimulation, disconnected from true relationships by their devices and deceived into thinking they can have the best of heaven and the best of the world.
How do they fight then? Their best weapon is a true and real intimacy with God. There is no better lover than Jesus. No greater romantic, protector, or satisfier. We must continue to call them to the love of the Father. They will follow where we are going. So we must ask, are we as adults enjoying the best of Jesus? Are we showing them the God they need for staying power through the minefield?
How would you feel?
The question jumped in my throat. She was asking, without asking, would you still love me if I had sex? I took another deep breath, shot up an arrow prayer and replied:
“This is your choice to make. I had my choices and I have to live with them. I have tried to tell you the truth best I can—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Now you have to decide what you are worth, what you are willing to fight for. My strong desire is that you wait. Wait on God. Wait for God. Wait in God. But my love for you is not determined by your choices. I choose to love you. No matter what.”
God we pray your covering over the younger generations. Give us boldness to speak and to stand. Give them wisdom and courage beyond their years. Satisfy us with your love dear Jesus. Amen