A FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM

“It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”. John 3:29-30

As Christians, we often spiritualize the idea of self-promotion.  After all, the more successful and popular we become, the better Christian witnesses we will be, right?  But surprisingly, that’s not God’s pattern at all.

At the peak of John the Baptist’s ministry, Jesus started baptizing, and people began coming more to Jesus than to John.  John’s followers seemed disturbed by this trend, and told him, “Behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (John 3:26).  They must have felt jealous on behalf of John, thinking, “Why is John suddenly getting overlooked?  People aren’t noticing him as much now that Jesus is around!  John should do something to promote himself and his ministry!”  And yet John knew that his sacred commission was to make Jesus – not himself – known to the world.

He told his followers, “I am only the friend of the bridegroom; not the bridegroom Himself; when the Bridegroom is ee0e98db35658c4bed8a5200113540f4seen, my joy is complete.” (John 3:29, paraphrase) And then John made a truly profound statement, completely opposite of the self-promoting messages we are so used to today.

He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  What an amazing attitude!  His primary concern was getting out of the way, so that Jesus could be seen.  John knew that if he tried to take center-stage, Jesus would not receive the glory that He deserved.

The same is true in our own lives.  When we try to be seen and applauded, Jesus fades into the background, and people look at us, not Him.  But when we focus on getting out of the way and pointing others to Him, He receives the glory He deserves. This doesn’t mean we can never cultivate the unique talents and strengths that He has given us.  It is certainly possible to use our gifts to glorify God (in fact, that is why He gave them to us in the first place!) But first, we must ask some critical questions:  “Am I doing this for His glory or for my own applause?  When people see this part of my life, are they drawn closer to Jesus, or are they merely impressed with me?”  If we are more concerned with what others think of us than what they think of Jesus, then we have not learned how to be a faithful “friend of the Bridegroom” as John the Baptist was.  If we are pursuing our dreams in order to “get what we want out of life” rather than to lead others to the Source of true life, we are missing a crucial part of the Christian life.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  (Matt 16:24)  The word “deny” here means “to forget one’s self and lose sight of one’s own interests.” What an incredibly different message from the “do what makes you happy” notion that our culture promotes!  Jesus says that in order to truly follow Him, we must lay down all pursuits of self-glory and seek His glory alone.

I once heard a true story about a young woman who left everything – all her dreams and personal pursuits – in order to share the hope of Christ among the destitute and dying in a foreign country.  One day she was walking down a filthy alley, watching several sad old men sifting through garbage cans in search of food. They were long-time drug addicts at the end of their miserable and hopeless lives; their bodies shriveled and wasting away, their souls lost and despairing. No one knew their names or cared whether they lived or died.  As the young woman watched the heartbreaking scene in front of her, she silently said to God, “It would be worth my whole life if I could just reach one of these old men for You, Lord.”

At the peak of her youthful potential, when she had her whole life ahead of her, this young woman was ready to leave it all behind just to lead one hopeless old man to Jesus Christ. Such a self-sacrificing attitude might at first seem foolish to our logical minds.  If we could speak to her, we might say, “You are such a bright and beautiful young lady; don’t throw away your life for the sake of one old man!  Surely there are better ways – bigger ways – for you to make an impact in God’s kingdom!”

But God doesn’t measure success the way we do. Mary of Bethany poured out her most priceless ointment upon the feet of Jesus without applause, recognition or fanfare, and some thought it was a waste.  Yet Jesus said, in essence, “what she has done for me is a picture of the Gospel itself.”  (See John 12:3-8)

The apostle Paul had loads of worldly accomplishments and accolades that he could have been leveraged to gain a bigger platform for his ministry. But only when he was willing to consider his earthly achievements worthless and become a fool for Christ’s sake, was he truly effective as a witness of the Gospel.  (See Phil 3:8, 1 Cor 1:27)

Jesus said that if we cling to our lives, we will lose them, but if we are willing to give up our lives for His sake, we will find true life.  (See Matt 10:39)

Instead of striving to be noticed and appreciated, we are to take an entirely different posture into every area of our life – one of humility and self-denial. Whether we are recognized and applauded, or disregarded and overlooked, it should make no difference to us.  A woman who has truly taken up her cross to follow Christ only cares about knowing Him, and making Him known.

Thanks to Leslie Ludy of Set apart girl for these words of guidance. https://setapartgirl.com/devotional/friend-bridegroom

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Modesty…for Men?

Now the name of this blog is Establish Her but believe me, Men you also play an important role in establishing godly women, sisters, friends.

When it comes to modesty, people almost immediately think about women wearing skirts and dresses, and clothing that covers the neck up to the ankles. While it is important for women to practice Godliness in the way we dress, the bible does tell us this in 1 Timothy 2:8-10:

 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

Notice in verse 9, the word “ALSO”. Women should ALSO dress modestly. Men are taught to practice modesty, and ALSO the women. Clearly, this verse does not only pertain to clothing but also the lifestyle that every Christian should have.

This week, we will focus on modesty in Men. After all, women can also fall into sin when looking at a man. We found this interesting article from CBN.com that talks about this issue. Read on and feel free to let us know your thoughts on the comments section!

Google the phrase “modesty for guys” and thousands of sites pop up, and yet none of them address young men. Informative sites invite you to carefully read biblical and practical advice for girls. It tells them how to dress, how to live with purity, as well as tips to keep a guy’s thought life untainted.

But is modesty a girl-only issue?

Ladies only

I quizzed several guys from my youth group about this topic. Most of them simply wore puzzled expressions as they contemplated the question. After a few moments, one college student shared his thoughts. “Guys usually don’t think about modesty for themselves. If they are showing underwear or skin, it’s because it’s comfortable or it’s an accident. It’s not like you see normal guys wearing Speedos at the beach.”

Youth pastor, Jason Fullerton, agreed. “As far as guys and modesty, in my opinion its all about comfort. I don’t think any girls get ‘turned on’ by looking at a guy’s hairy legs.”

thinkingWhich brought me back to the question: is modesty for guys a non-issue?

For most teen boys, clothing serves three purposes: covering, protection, and identification. Many times those lines are blurred as clothing serves both comfort and culture. For example, sagging pants that reveal hiked up boxers is a fashion trend that’s been around for a while. This trend was first identified with the hip-hop culture and represented a lifestyle that delved deeper than just music. It was symbolic of the urban life. In recent years it crossed over from urban gear to every day comfort for the average guy. Belts have become officially uncool.

Most guys wear long shirts, or slip on a pair of basketball shorts underneath their pants so that you have two pairs of shorts hiked up instead of one, so modesty is very rarely the real issue. You may just hate thimagee style.

Wearing pants two sizes too big might not make sense to you, but wearing tight pants that hug your waistline is just as confusing to teen guys.

So here we are again. Back to square one. How do you address the issue of modesty for guys? Is it relevant?

Pastor Fullerton says that it is, but that we must focus on the deeper issues. “Instead of teaching a student to be modest, I try to teach every student to be pure. Modesty is focused on clothing, where purity is more of a mindset.  I believe that we must teach kids to have a higher self-esteem, not just to dress appropriately.”

I can’t agree more. I attend conferences as a speaker and am dismayed when the topic of modesty is wrapped exclusively around outerwear. Though this is a needed topic, if it’s not balanced teens may leave with an idea of how to fill their closet with appropriate clothes, but miss the opportunity to have a real dialogue about modesty of the heart.

Recently my daughter and I strolled through the mall. I glanced into an apparel store. A well-built older teen stood inside the doorway. He was bare-chested and wore low-slung pants. His thumb was hitched in the belt loop to reveal a glimpse of boxers and more skin. The hired model smiled at us, crossing his arms in a “you can’t resist this” invitation. Behind him was a sign advertising the jeans that he was wearing.

I didn’t see any other guys walking through the mall with skin exposed. This was clearly a cultural message and an advertising ploy. Rather than advertise a great pair of jeans, the message was that “these things can make me cool; they define my self-image; they sex me up; you can have this too.”

Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, said in a Boston Globe Interview on 12/15/04, that, “Today’s kids aren’t just being marketed products. They are marketed values.”

When discussing modesty, our challenge as parents is to balance cultural messages about values. Modesty for guys and girls begins first as a heart issue.

In Proverbs 23:7, it says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” The message of youth culture says that value is based upon superficial or external appearances. Our goal is to teach our young men (and women) who they are from the inside out.

Having a modest heart is expecting and showing character and integrity. It’s demonstrating and expecting a gentle and faith-filled attitude. It’s balancing the cultural message of external value with the truth of the benefits of living as a godly young man.

But what about the low-slung pants?

What do we do about those?

saggy-pants
Pick, choose or refuse

Every week I watch guys walk through the church door wearing all kinds of clothing. Most are amazing young men who love God with a passion—even those showing their underwear. If you hate the low-slung pants and hiked up shorts, you have options. Wait and the style will change, or go shopping together and find a style that suits both of you.

But if we’re going to talk about modesty and guys, it’s important to take a look below the surface. Examine the heartbeat of your son. Does he love God? Is he a productive person in your family and in his community and church? Does he care for others? Does he treat others with respect?

Those are the real issues, and long after he has abandoned the over sized shirts, waist three-sizes-too-big pants, and pulled down ball cap, those are the attitude issues that will carve him into the man God called him to be from the very beginning.

Thanks to Sources:  http://apostolicclothing.com/blog/news/modesty-for-men

http://www1.cbn.com/family/modesty-…-for-guys%3F

Credits to T. Suzanne Eller, originally posted in Dabbling Mum on March 2005.

http://projects.nyujournalism.org/nyuprecollege2016/2016/08/11/whats-deal-low-slung-pants/

 

The start of a new journey

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Mike Dooley said, “when just starting out on a new journey it’s only natural to feel vulnerable. After all, it may seem that you have much to lose. But never again, at any other point in the same journey, will you have so much to gain”.

This journey has been years in the making…some amount of procrastination and life happening influenced that…but I never lost sight of the vision and butterflies I had the first time I had dreams of starting a blog that spoke to concerns we have as young Christians…it just happened to take some time to come to fruition. I don’t know when this journey will end, will it? Some journeys don’t have endings, they lead to new beginnings. These are the journeys that lead to great adventures!

All I know is wherever this journey leads, I want to share my experiences, engage in meaningful discussions and God’s grace with you. I hope it inspires you to do the same for others.

There is a journey that’s waiting for each of us, you will make great discoveries, you will find treasures and hidden powers, it’s a journey divinely designed just for you, so be brave in self-love and start the journey within yourself, there God is waiting to show you his masterpiece of love. Micheline Jean Louis

~Yanique~