Archives For November 2013

This weekend represents one of the stranger conflations of virtue and vice on the national calendar.  On the one hand, throughout the history of the United States, we have celebrated the national holiday of Thanksgiving.   Although the dates have changed and it has only been formalized as the last Thursday in November since the 20th Century, we have nearly always set aside time to show gratitude and celebrate the good we have enjoyed.

On the other, since the 19th Century, Thanksgiving has also marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  So that’s not new.  What is new, however, is the insane violence and disregard for other human beings that occurs the day after and now even on the same day that we give thanks.  While it has always been busy and stressful, only in the 2000s have reports of extreme violence become common.  Do your own Google search on “Black Friday Violence” to see what I’m talking about.

You’ll notice that the vast majority of the stories are from 2008 and later, and that they have intensified in the last couple of years – even as stores have opened earlier on Friday.  In 2011, many stores opened at midnight for the first time.  Just last year Walmart and other chains opened at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day.   Rather than reducing the stress by extending the shopping season by a few hours, opening earlier seems to have merely fueled the frenzy.

In the name of insane deals on merchandise, insane behavior ensues.  Would you be part of a mob that trampled someone to death for $50?  Would you pull a gun on someone for $25?  Or would you spray someone with pepper spray, get involved in a fist fight, or engage in a shootout for $100?  No?  All of these things and more have happened during the Thanksgiving shopping spree over similarly trivial amounts of money.

So, in the course of one day we express gratitude and indulge in greed.  Wouldn’t it be better to spend a little more time being thankful and a little less being avaricious?

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It has been said that the travels of Abraham can be traced by the altars he built.  In Genesis 12, we read of the Lord calling him to leave his home and go to Canaan.  It says that he went to Shechem and built an altar where the Lord appeared to him in v. 6-7.  Then he moved to Bethel and “pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. v 8” In chapter 13, after he separated from Lot, he went to Hebron and again built an altar – 13:18.  Under the patriarchal system, the altar was the place of worship to God.  Every place that Abraham went, then, he prepared for himself a place and a way to worship his God.

There are a couple places where he lived but didn’t build altars:  Egypt (Genesis 12:11-20) and Gerar (Genesis 20:1-9).  It is more than interesting to note that those places are the places where he sinned.

Scripture teaches that we are merely sojourners and travelers on the earth – Hebrews 11:13-14.  As we travel through life we need, like Abraham, to be erecting “altars” everywhere we go – signs and reminders that, no matter where we find ourselves, we took time to remember God.

In our Families.  Raising godly children is not something that just happens.  However, having children does.  Many enter into fatherhood and motherhood without purpose and without a goal.  As a result, their training and discipline of their children, if it happens at all, is done haphazardly and without purpose.  Even Christians are sometimes no more specific in their plans for their children than, “I hope they grow up to be faithful.”  For the most part, if you’re just hoping, they probably won’t.

The Bible gives us several principles for raising children:

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

“…do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4.

How can you bring your children up in the training and admonition of the Lord if you are not living yourself in the training and admonition of the Lord?  We need to be building altars to God in our families.  That is, we need to make home a place where God is remembered and respected and given a central place.  If we don’t, how can we hope for our children to grow up to serve God?  On one of the altars Abraham built, he offered up his only son, Isaac, at the command of God.  How do you think the unflinching obedience of his father affected the young boy? When Joshua exhorted Israel, he said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord –  Josh. 24:15.”  He had built an altar – making it known that God was not an optional addition to his family.

Some altars we can build:

Does your family have a time they study the Bible together?

2 Tim 1:3-5

3          I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,

4          greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,

5          when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”

2 Tim 3:14-17

14         But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

15         and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16         All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

17         that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Do you have a time besides mealtime when you pray together?

1Thes 5:16-18

16         Rejoice always,

17         pray without ceasing,

18         in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Phil 4:6-7

6          Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7          and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

What place does gathering with other Christians have in your family?

Heb 10:23-25

23         Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

24         And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

25         not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

What part does God play in your normal, everyday conversations?

Deut 6:5-9

5          “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

6          “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

7          “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

8          “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

9          “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

If the Lord has a constant place of honor and involvement in the fabric of our family life, then we won’t have to merely hope that our children will grow up to be faithful.  We will instead have the assurance that we are, indeed, bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord, and that, even when the children have left the home, He will be a permanent fixture in their lives and our own.

Brad

Genesis 31:49

I’ve seen these words, as you have, used as a sign of romance or friendship, with the two halves of a locket divided between two people.    As beautiful as that sentiment is, it is almost exactly the opposite of what prompted the statement in the Bible.

In this story, Jacob, Laban’s son in law, had just fled with his two wives, 11 children, and all of his herds and livestock to go back to his home in Canaan.  Jacob’s wealth represented the best of what had once belonged to Laban.

The two men had spent the previous twenty years trying to find ways to trick and take advantage of one another, with varying degrees of success.  Now Jacob is leaving while he has the upper hand.

Laban rightly accused Jacob of having stolen his household idols.  Actually, Rachel had stolen them without Jacob’s knowledge and now Laban failed to find them among Jacob’s things.

In righteous indignation(as he thought), Jacob said, “What is my offense?  What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me?  For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two…  If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.  God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”

Mizpah

Admitting defeat, Laban said, “the daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.  But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for the children whom they have borne?  Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I.  And let it be a witness between you and me.”

It is in that context that Laban says, ‘The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.”  It is not a benediction; rather, it is a threat.  Notice the next few verses:

“If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.  This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm.  The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.  So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.”   (Genesis 31:50-53).

So, the next time you see someone wearing half a locket, remember that the saying means, “I don’t trust you and I am calling on God to keep you accountable for not cheating me!”

On a more serious level, though, when we consider the Bible we find that God does exactly that.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord (Romans 12:19)”

“Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering —since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grand relief to you…(II Thessalonians 1:4-7).

Even today, the Lord is indeed watching between you and me, and between you and me and every person we interact with on a daily basis.  When we take advantage of the weak, He knows.  When we accuse someone wrongly or when we react with anger instead of kindness, He is keeping track.

Instead of the romantic sentimentality that is often associated with this verse, let’s take the warning seriously and do all things, every day and every time, as if we were doing it in the presence of God (Colossians 3:33-35).  For, actually, we are.

Brad

tree-trunk

Chinese Wood Carver Zheng Chunhui Wins Guinness World Record for Giant Carving.

One tree trunk, four years of work.  Here are the results.

Here’s some more musical excellence for you… Tobias Volkhamer plays Tommy Emmanuel’s Papa George with a twist.

The Good Life

November 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

“For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”      II Peter 3:10-12

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”   James 1:17

The common thread in these verses and others in the Bible is that God’s plan and intention for us is that we have a good life – a happy and fulfilled life.  Sometimes this promise challenges our faith because life for us at the moment may not seem to be all that great.  And then, we struggle at times because our idea of what a good life looks like and God’s knowledge of what a good life really is don’t line up exactly.

The good life he has in mind for us does not necessarily include wealth, popularity, or even good health, although they may be part of the blessings he bestows on us.  After all, Jesus himself said, “all people will hate you for my name’s sake (Luke 21:17).”   And when the Lord mentions some of his favorite people in Hebrews 11, he says, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.  They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated — of whom the world was not worthy — wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38).”

How can both of these ideas be true?  How can we live a good life that does not depend on the circumstances of that life?  Both in the Bible and in our own experience, we find that wealth, popularity, and physical well-being do not equal a good life.  There are too many examples in our own lives of people around us who possess all of those things while remaining the most miserable people on earth.  Conversely, it’s easy to find those who have nothing, as far as we can see, but who are genuinely happy and content.

There is a lifestyle taught by the Lord, however, that leads to happiness and good days no matter what we do or don’t have.  Here are at least some of the elements of it:

Contentment

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:12-13).”

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction (I Timothy 6:6-9).”

“Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Peace

“…let him seek peace and pursue it (I Peter 3:11).”

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).”

95 times or more in the New Testament alone, peace is mentioned and encouraged.  Much of the conflict in our lives – in relationships, at work, in the church – are only exacerbated because we do not take it upon ourselves to become peacemakers.  How much less stressful would your life be, and how much happier could you be if, at least for your part, you sought to be at peace with everyone?

Honest Work

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (Ecclesiastes 2:24).”

“…aspire to live quietly and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may…be dependent on no one (I Thessalonians 4:11).”

Those who embrace their work rather than constantly scheming to avoid it know something about the secret of a good life.

Hope

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:16-18).”

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:19).”

People without hope are people with nothing.  It’s impossible to know happiness and contentment without it.  And so, God gives us something wonderful to look forward to – something that exists and is yours beyond time, beyond destruction, and beyond the unfairness and injustice of this world.  We can be happy living in these days by living for those days that are to come.

Brad

How to Lead a Team:

November 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

“I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together. How to lift some men up, how to calm down others, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together, a team.  There’s just three things I’d ever say: If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”

Bear Bryant.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.

Pretty good list.

Taking time to Ponder

November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.”

-Genesis 24:63

I was reading in Genesis last night the story of the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, and this line jumped out at me.  Isaac went out to meditate in the field.  He is a nomad, living in a tent, far away from civilization.  There are few, if any, books available to him.  No telephone, television, or internet.  No texts, tweets, emails, Facebook statuses, or voice messages to respond to.  No one at the office is looking for him.  He’s single, so he doesn’t have any children running around underfoot demanding his attention and he has none of the responsibilities that go along with marriage.  I imagine that, even in the hustle and bustle of the camp, most of us would feel pretty alone with our thoughts.  So, why did he need to get away in order to meditate?

More importantly, if ancient Isaac had to separate himself from the humdrum of his relatively spartan existence to meditate, then it is all the more vital that we clear time and space for ourselves sometimes to just stop and think.

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.  Proverbs 4:26

“Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”  Psalm 119:27

Meditation is not the same thing as studying (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14).  Pondering has to do with thinking through the things you have studied and experienced and forming complete ideas about things – especially about the things God is revealing to you.  It takes time.  And most of our schedules don’t have room for it.

Even when I do try to just stop and think, if I am at home or at work, people assume I’m just zoning out or that I have nothing to do, and so they feel free to interrupt.  It’s no good to sit at the computer, because the whole world of the internet is right there, calling my name.  My phone accompanies me even to the great outdoors – I’m almost never completely out of reach and alone with myself.

Maybe Isaac was on to something.  Maybe, every once in awhile, toward evening it would be good to lay the phone on my desk and head outside, where no one else is, and just think.

Greatness

November 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Six Element

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”               – Ralph Waldo Emerson –

I.W.W. Meeting -- Union Sq., 4/11/14  (LOC)

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Kid Chronicles

November 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

So it’s Fall here in Missouri.  It’s cloudy and the temperature is a crisp 50 degrees or so.   My youngest son and I were in my truck on the way back from dropping my older son off at work, and he asked if we could roll down the windows.  I declined, saying, “it’s a little too cold.”  He gave me a look and replied, “It’s not cold!”  So I opened all the windows.

After about 5 minutes, he looked at me and said, “Dad, you were right.” And we rolled the windows up again.

I am fairly confident that there is nothing profound or life-changing about this little exchange.  We won’t remember it a week from now, and there are sure to be far bigger moments in the shaping of the character of this 6 year old boy.

Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little proud of him.  One of his siblings might have rode the rest of the way home shivering rather than utter those humiliating words – “you were right!”   And I couldn’t help but think of the times I have suffered in silence myself, even (especially) as an adult, simply because I preferred that to admitting I was wrong.

And then I thought some more.  It’s very tempting for me to just make the decision and insist that the kids go along.  After all, I’m the parent, I’m older, and I know best, right?  But, as Burke said, “Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”  As much as I want to keep my children from painful experiences, they are human beings and, like the rest of us, they learn best from the test and not so much from being told.  Maybe it’s a good idea for me to say, “Ok, let’s do it your way,” once in awhile.

It struck me, too, how calm the whole thing was.  He disagreed, I complied, he changed his mind, and we continued down the road.  No argument, no fractured friendship, no hurt feelings – and no irritation on his part about being proven wrong.

Again, I know this is just a small, insignificant moment in a day, but those moments add up.  Here’s to more like that one.

 

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago…

800px-Autumn_trees_in_Dresden

The second best time is now.

Here’s a little virtuosity to start your day 🙂

On Sarcasm and Mockery

November 12, 2013 — 1 Comment

 

“The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.  But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words and scoffing at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, until there was no remedy.”  II Chronicles 36:15-16

“Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools.”  Proverbs 19:29

“…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.”  II Peter 3:3-6

To scoff is to speak about something in a scornfully derisive way..

I’m afraid we have become a nation of scoffers – if not a world of them.  It seems that our favorite form of humor is sarcasm and that our preferred method of argument is derision.  If you listen to a political debate, more time is spent mocking the other side than is spent actually taking their positions seriously and answering them.   When I read religious arguments, discussions, and debates, I see the same thing.  We are experts at reducing things to absurdity – and then at acting as if that closes the subject.

The trouble is that anything – even the most serious things – can be made to appear foolish.

When Jesus, the sinless Son of God, was dying on the cross of Calvary, His detractors were busy scoffing, saying, “If He’s who He says He is, let him come down off the cross.”  (Matthew 27:39-44).  They sought to make a fool of Jesus, portraying the ridiculous picture of one claiming to possess the power and authority of divinity, but without the ability to even save his own life, let alone the souls of all of mankind.  The truth of the matter, of course, is that Jesus didn’t want to get down off the cross.  He was there on purpose, and for a purpose.  And the whole world from the day of Creation until now can be thankful that He did it.  But that didn’t stop the mockers from scoring with their one-liner.  One of the strengths of scoffing is it takes a lot longer to answer the statement than it took to utter it.  And we foolishly tend to think that the shortest answer is the best one.  Imagine Jesus on the cross explaining the whole plan of salvation and the reason why He was up there to those who were mocking Him – He knew that they were not really interested in an explanation.  They just wanted to poke fun and justify themselves.

The attitude has always been there.  In the first Scripture I mentioned, II Chronicles 36:15-16, the Lord had sent prophets and warnings to spare the people, but they were so scornful that the warnings did not get through and the only thing left for the Lord to send them was His wrath – when He wanted to send mercy.

Today, too, we must face the jeers of the scoffers.

Scoffing and mockery are powerful debating tools, no doubt.  But they do not undo one iota of God’s instructions.  The only purpose they serve is to harden the heart and will into stubborn rebelliousness against God.

How do you react to Bible teaching that contradicts your beliefs or habits?  Do you examine it and see whether it’s true?  Or do you just dismiss it with contempt?  Are you a scoffer?

Brad

Modest:

1.        Placing a moderate (avoiding extremes of behavior or expression) estimate on one’s abilities or worth

2.       Neither bold nor self-assertive : tending toward diffidence (reserved, unassertive)

3.       Arising from or characteristic of a modest nature

4.       Observing the proprieties of dress and behavior : decent.

5.       Unpretentious

Modesty:

Freedom from conceit or vanity.

Propriety in dress, speech, or conduct.

When we talk about modesty, generally we tend to talk about the revealing way some women dress – and that is, or can be, a problem, certainly.  But the problem of immodesty is deeper than the clothing someone chooses to wear.  Modesty is first an attitude, then a behavior.  Like virtually everything else Jesus talks about, changing the action without changing the heart is useless.

The word, “modest,” only appears in the New Testament in relation to clothing:

I Corinthians 12:23 – “…and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty.”

I Timothy 2:9-10 – “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.”

But notice that even there the emphasis is on the attitude, not the clothing.  The clothing is only a symptom, not the main issue.

That is why I say that modesty is a lost grace.  It’s something we barely have a sense of anymore, anywhere, and it is not surprising that the way we dress reflects our lack of modesty in general.  Although the word “modest” is rare in the Scriptures, the attitude is abundant.  Let’s take a deeper look at what modesty is and how it applies to us.

According to the dictionary, modesty is first placing a moderate estimate on one’s abilities or worth.

Romans 12:3 – “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Philippians 2:3 – “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Psalm 8:3-4 – “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Psalm 84:7 – “Remember how short my time is!  For what vanity you have created all the children of man!  What man can live and never see death?  Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?”

In this sense, immodesty is rampant among us, and it is not confined to pretty girls in short skirts.  We are immodest because we are self-regarding and self-impressed.  We want others to cater to us and think our concerns ought to be foremost, and we engage the bulk of our effort in seeking our own comforts.

Marketing says, “You deserve it.”

Education says, “You’re special.”

My heart says, “What about me?”

And my soul eats it up.  But God says, be careful how you think of yourself and put others on a higher pedestal.

Modesty is neither bold nor self-assertive.  It is unpretentious.

Luke 20:46-47 – “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers.  They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Luke 14:7-11 – “Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.  But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

We rebuke the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, but then spend our time getting the right cars, the right houses in the right neighborhoods, making sure we go to the right schools and wear the right clothes so that everyone will know that we are somebody.  But it’s easier just to talk about modest clothing, isn’t it?

Modesty is free from conceit or vanity.

And then it observes propriety in dress, speech, and conduct.

All of us, not just women, are called to be modest people – unconceited, unpretentious, and humble in our dress, speech, and behavior.  If our heart is right and if we thoughtfully apply that heart to everything we do, wouldn’t we almost automatically be modest in the way we dress, speak, and act?  But if we only try to look modest without actually being modest, it is doomed to fail.  First because it is useless before God anyway, and second because a proud heart clamors to be noticed.

Brad