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Thursday Thoughts: Gospel-Driven Modesty

clothing-rackShaunti Feldhahn, a Christian author and speaker, tells the story here (at about 2:00) of her four year old son who got lost at the mall. Shaunti and her husband found the boy standing in front of the Victoria’s Secret window with his mouth gaping open and staring. The boy’s father said, “Honey, where were you?” The boy pointed at the life-size cut-outs of the models with almost nothing on. Then he said, “I like those ladies; they make my tummy feel good.” The boy’s father said, “Yeah, they’re really pretty. What is it that you like?” The boy answered, “Their bare tummies make my tummy feel good.”

If this story and many other similar stories are not enough to encourage our ladies to dress modestly, I don’t know what can. Yet, the Bible does give a further, even more significant and moving reason for us to dress modestly: Our modest appearance reflects the work of the Gospel in our hearts.

We are going to look at the aim, attitude, and appearance of modesty, based on a study of 1 Timothy 2:8-10:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 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.

The Aim of Modesty: Love for God

Throughout 1 Timothy, Paul is addressing issues within the Ephesian church. Two of the issues addressed here were 1) men causing division and 2) women causing distraction within the church. The men were quarreling, and the women were dressing immodestly and extravagantly. Instead, godliness should have been the aim!

1 Timothy 2 refers mainly to “worship” dress and behavior, i.e., how one ought to dress and behave in a church’s worship service. Yet, a similar passage in 1 Peter 3:3-4 emphasizes a woman’s godliness rather than drawing attention to her appearance in a situation that is not specific to a worship service. That said, these principles of modesty can be applied in every situation in which we desire to point to Christ–every situation!

Paul discusses the specifics of modesty in verse 9, then he points to the aim of modesty in verse 10. He says that a modest woman is a woman who professes godliness! A godly woman does good works (v 10) and dresses modestly (v 9) to evidence her godliness.

The aim of a modest appearance is to exemplify that a woman is committed to godliness. Thus, the primary motivation for modesty should be love for God.

A woman who loves God. . .

  • Loves God’s Word.
  • Loves to honor God by obeying His Word.
  • Loves to show others she honors God by her modest appearance.
  • Loves to worship God and share the Gospel message without distracting others by immodest dress or behavior.

The gospel message is the motivation for modest dress. The woman who loves the Savior avoids immodesty because she doesn’t want to distract from or reflect poorly upon the gospel. (C.J. Mahaney, Worldliness, p. 138)

Questions for application:

  • Do you love God and His Word?
  • Do you love to worship God and share the Gospel message without distraction?
  • These questions are of first and foremost importance when discussing modesty. A woman who doesn’t love God is not going to care what God thinks and says about modesty. She is not going to care how others view her appearance.

The Attitude of Modesty: Humility and Self-Control

How can you discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer lies in the intent of the heart. You should examine your motives and goals for the way you dress. Is your intent to reflect the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to show your love and devotion to your husband? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshiping God? Or is it to call attention to yourself—to flaunt your wealth and beauty? Or worse, to attempt to allure men sexually? If you are focused on worshiping God, you won’t have to worry about how you dress because your commitment will dictate your wardrobe. (MacArthur, Different By Design, p. 132, emphasis added)

1 Timothy 2:1o describes the modest woman as one who “professes godliness.” She has a godly heart. What are the attitudes of this godly heart?

An Attitude of Humility

The Greek word translated ‘modestly’ in verse 9 refers to modesty mixed with humility. At its core it connotes a sense of shame—not shame in being a woman, but shame for in any way inciting lust or distracting others from a proper worship of God. (MacArthur)

Before I became pregnant, I worked out using Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred. During the work out, she explicitly states, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it, ladies. No shame!” Interesting how the world’s philosophy is directly against Biblical truth!

A woman with a godly heart is humble. In this context, a humble heart is reflected in her clothing; she does not proudly draw attention to herself. Rather, she humbly dresses in a way that focuses attention on her godly works and the Gospel message she promotes.

An Attitude of Self-control

Self-control is the primary idea behind the word that has been translated as “discreetly” (NASB) and “sobriety” (KJV).

Self-control is “restraint for the purpose of purity; restraint for the purpose of exalting God and not ourselves” (Mahaney, p. 120).

Questions for applicationAs we move to more practical matters regarding adornment, examine the attitudes of your own heart. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have a humble and self-controlled heart?
  • Am I willing to obey Scripture and apply these heart attitudes to my clothing selections?

The Appearance of Modesty

1 Timothy 2:9  gives three guidelines for how we are to adorn ourselves:

  • In respectable apparel
  • With modesty
  • With self-control

The word adorn means “to put in proper order, arrange.” The following guidelines will make sure that our appearance is in proper order, rightly reflecting how God (not a rule book!) wants us to look.

Respectable: Is it becoming?

The Greek word respectable is kosmios, related to the English word cosmos, the universe. When we think of our universe, we do not think of chaos, but of a unified, well-arranged whole. In the same way, our appearance should be well-arranged.

It should be “becoming”—that is, appropriate or fitting. . . .  Kosmio means that a Christian woman’s ‘look’ ought to be consistently put together, inside and out. (Mary Kassian, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, pp. 104-105)

Questions for application: Mary Kassian (p. 105)  goes on to give several questions to ask ourselves as we make our clothing choices. Rather than simply asking yourself, “Do I like it and does it fit?” ask yourself the following questions:

1.         Does it fit with who I am as a child of God?

2.         Does it fit with Christlikeness?

3.         Does it fit and flatter my body?

4.         Does it fit and flatter my femininity?

5.         Does it fit my age and stage of life?

6.         Does it fit my wardrobe?

7.         Does it fit my budget?

8.         Does it fit my needs?

9.         Does it fit the occasion?

10.       Does it fit the place I intend to wear it?

Modesty: Is it decent?

Modesty is humility in dress. It is a shame to show off our bodies in order to distract or seduce others. The purpose of clothing is to cover our nakedness. We respect the men around us and aid them in their daily battles against sin by not proudly showing off our bodies.

We also humbly realize the need to honor our Savior. In humility, we place our value on what God thinks, rather than on what we think. This kind of humility displayed in dress is a way we can evidence our love for God.

Application: When you try on an outfit, look in a full-length mirror. Sit, stand, reach, bend, walk. . . Is your clothing in all normal positions covering what it should? Ask your dad, husband, or godly woman to evaluate every new outfit. Don’t think only of yourself as you try on clothing. Think of your Savior and your Christian brothers around you. Be humble. Be modest!

Self-control: Is it moderate?

Here, we apply the attitude of self-control to our appearance.

We ought to rein in our impulses and avoid crazy extremes in fashion, hairstyles, and makeup. We also ought to avoid spending crazy amounts of money or stuffing our closets full of crazy quantities of clothing. We ought to govern our wardrobe choices with a sense of moderation, simplicity, and self-control. If the skirt is crazy extreme, crazy expensive, or if it’s crazy for you to be buying another one, then you ought to pass it up. (Kassian, p. 107)

Questions for application:

  • Is my make-up, hairstyles, or clothing extreme or moderate?
  • Do I spend extreme amounts of money on my appearance, or am I moderate?
  • Do I own extreme amounts of clothing and make-up, or am I moderate?

Conclusion:  Immodesty is a timeless problem. In Paul’s day, it looked like elaborately braided hair studded with gold and pearls, distracting the men and distinguishing the wealthy from the poor. In our day, immodesty looks quite different.

However, the principles of modesty are timeless as well. A humble, self-controlled woman whose primary focus is evidencing her love for God will arrange her appearance in a becoming, decent, moderate way so that her good works and godly heart will take preeminence. Her conduct and her appearance support her claim to godliness.

Make this your aim: that there be no contradiction between your gospel message and the clothes you wear. May your modest dress be a humble witness to the One who gave Himself a ransom for all. (Mahaney, p. 138)

In his chapter on modesty in his book Worldliness, C.J. Mahaney gives some very helpful “Modesty Discussion Questions.” These would be extremely helpful for you to go over yourself, then perhaps with a young lady whom you could help as well.

The following “Modesty Discussion Questions”  are taken from Worldliness edited by C. J. Mahaney copyright © 2008 pages 185–186.  Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187 www.crossway.org.

For Your Mind

1) Read 1 Timothy 2:3–10. What do these verses say about the motivation for modest dress?

2) How do we know that 1 Timothy 2:9 does not prohibit women from making themselves beautiful?

3) How do women who dress modestly serve men?

For Your Heart

4) Who are you trying to imitate or identify with through your appearance—godly women, or women of the world?

5) This chapter [“God, My Heart, and Clothes” from Worldliness] notes that your wardrobe is a public statement of your personal and private motivation. What does your clothing communicate about your motivations and priorities?

6) Think of a woman who is admired for her godly character and good works. What aspects of her godliness do you particularly want to emulate?

For Your Life

7) What about your wardrobe may need to change so that your appearance can better reflect the transforming power of the gospel?

8) What steps can you take on your next shopping trip to ensure that your clothing purchases reflect humility, modesty, and self-control? (Some ideas: Pray for God’s help and provision in finding modest clothing; check each article of clothing you try on for modesty as well as fit; ask your father, husband, or a trusted friend to evaluate items you’re not sure about.)

9) Mothers, what steps can you take to train your daughters to value godliness over fashion, to nurture humility and self-control, and to wear clothing that reflects these virtues? Fathers, what steps can you take to care for and lead your daughters in humility, self-control, and modesty?

 **The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Tasty Tuesday: Salted-Caramel Six-Layer Chocolate Cake

salted caramel 6 layer cake 1This cake recipe, for lack of a better description, takes the cake! 🙂 It is absolutely the most amazing, moist, delicious cake I have ever had. In fact, for Valentine’s Day, my husband requested this cake instead of cheesecake (which is saying a lot). And my 3-year old Calvin wants this for his birthday cake. It is that good.

The chocolate cake itself is good, but then you add between each layer a layer of homemade caramel. And then you top it with a layer of homemade frosting that hardens into perfection. And combined. . . Mmmmmmm!!

Now, this is a Martha Stewart recipe, so that usually means it takes a bit of time (which this does) and calls for a few ingredients I don’t have (or care to buy, for that matter). Even with a couple tweeks, though, it was DELICIOUS! This last time, I made the cake and caramel the day before I assembled the cake and made the frosting. I recommend doing that.

And now, for the recipe (from Martha Stewart  with my modifications noted in parentheses):

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans (I used cooking spray the first time, which was ok; the last time I used butter, and the cakes popped out perfectly)

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (Mine didn’t say “Dutch-process,” and it was fine)

1 tablepoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Coarse salt

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk (I used 1-1/2 tbsp vinegar [or lemon juice] plus enough milk to equal 1-1/2 cups, which I let sit for at least 5 minutes)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons safflower oil (I used vegetable oil)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

FOR THE CARAMEL

4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 cups heavy cream

Coarse salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

FOR THE FROSTING

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (same as above)

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Coarse salt

1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted, and cooled (I used choc chips)

Garnish: flaked sea salt, such as Maldon (I could never find flaked sea salt; the first time I made this, I tried coarse salt, but used way too much. This last time I sparingly sprinkled coarse salt, which was amazing!)

COOK’S NOTE : To make this cake ahead of time: The caramel can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using. Cake layers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (they actually taste better when refrigerated and have a better texture for stacking). When finished, the frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

DIRECTIONS

STEP 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

STEP 2

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

STEP 3

Make the caramel: Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth. Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool completely.

STEP 4

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves. Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.

STEP 5

Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface. [This last time I wrapped my cooled cake in plastic wrap and frozen them overnight–so much easier to cut in half this way!] Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers. Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over top. Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

STEP 6

Frost top and sides of cake in a swirling motion. Sprinkle with sea salt.salted caramel 6 layer cake 2

SOURCE: Martha Stewart Living, November 2011

I recommend watching the tutorial on how to level and split a layer cake that is on the recipe page. It probably would have helped me a bit. It looked pretty scary before I frosted it. Even after, it didn’t look perfect, but it sure tasted perfect! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Detergent {Frugal Success} & Homemade Dish Soap {Frugal Failure}

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I have seen many homemade laundry detergent recipes out there, and a couple weeks ago I finally decided to try one. You can make a liquid or powder form, but I found the powder to be much easier. I don’t remember where I found this exact recipe online, but most I have seen are similar if not the same.

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

  • 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap (I used Ivory; you can use Fels-Naptha, which is a bit more expensive. I actually use Fels-Naptha as a stain remover, and it works great!)
  • 1 cup of borax (found in the laundry aisle)
  • 1 cup of washing soda (not BAKING soda; also found in the laundry aisle)

I combined all the ingredients in my food processor to grind the Ivory up finely and mix it all thoroughly. I use about 1 tbsp for a regular load of clothes or 2-3 tbsp for heavier loads. I have an HE washer, and it works great! I’ll definitely be making this again–Success!!

Now, on to my frugal failure. . .

I attempted to make some dish soap as well. It required only boiling water, borax, and a bit of ivory. It seemed to work ok until I had some greasy pans to wash. It is a HORRIBLE de-greaser. The grease was on EVERYTHING! I will definitely NOT be making this again!

If anyone has a homemade dish soap which de-greases well, let me know. Otherwise, I’m sticking with good ol’ store-bought! 🙂

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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Thursday Thoughts: Pattern of a Wise Woman

{If you follow me, you may have noticed that I’ve taken quite a long blogging break. I’m pregnant–due in August–and I was hit quite hard with nausea and exhaustion this past trimester! Glad to be back for a while before baby comes! 🙂 }

mother-and-baby-in-parkLast time I posted, way back in mid-December, I wrote about the type of woman portrayed in Proverbs 7. Today, the focus will be on the woman portrayed in Proverbs 31.

The point of this post is not to burden women with another set of “do’s” that we must obey to be a godly woman. In fact, if we simply look at the Proverbs 31 woman as the ideal whom we are to mimic as closely as we can, we will either fail and be discouraged, or we may possibly succeed and feel pride in being able to check off another list on our “godliness profile.”

If this study is rather a character study, in a sense, of a woman who applied wisdom, then the first lesson should be the source of our wisdom, as found all throughout the book of Proverbs: the fear of the Lord. As we learn of the Lord through his Word and worship the Lord, we gain wisdom to practically apply in everyday life.

The Proverbs 31 woman is one example of a woman who feared the Lord and applied that wisdom in everyday life. Just as with many examples, we can learn from them without feeling the pressure to conform to every practical application of the wisdom principles behind each application. Clearly some applications, like her speech being characterized by kindness, is echoed in the New Testament as descriptors of a believer in Jesus Christ.

PASSAGE OVERVIEW

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a poem. In Hebrew, the poem is an acrostic—the first letter of each line began with the successive letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This poem was recited by Jewish husbands and children at the Sabbath dinner. The manner of the poem is also similar to a hymn written to extol a heroine, in this case the wise wife and mother.

However, the Proverbs 31 woman is more than just an ideal wife and mother. She personifies wisdom applied in daily living. One author states,

The poem certainly presents a pattern for women who want to develop a life of wisdom; but since it is essentially about wisdom, its lessons are for both men and women to develop. The passage teaches that the fear of the Lord will inspire people to be faithful stewards of the time and talents that God has given; that wisdom is productive and beneficial for others, requiring great industry in life’s endeavors; that wisdom is best taught and lived in the home—indeed, the success of the home demands wisdom—and that wisdom is balanced living (Allen Ross, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 1130).

Although there are various ways this poem can be broken up, I  will study it as 8 stanzas, beginning and ending with praise for this wise woman.

1. GENERAL PRAISE (Prov 31:10-12)

She is a rarity (v 10).

Who can find an excellent woman? She is like a rare jewel.

She is excellent (v 10).

The Hebrew word for excellent often means “strength.” She has strength of character; she is fully-capable.

She is trustworthy (vv 11-12).

Her husband can fully trust her. According to a sermon I read by John MacArthur, it was common for a husband to lock up his valuables when he left his home, because he couldn’t trust his wife. Not so a wise woman! She increases his resources, rather than emptying them. He knows she will only do him good for her whole life.

2. WISDOM IN HOUSEHOLD PURSUITS (Prov 31:13-15)

She works willingly with her hands (v 13).

She works to provide food for her family (v 14).

Every area had a staple diet. In order to bring variety and creativity to the table, she had to travel elsewhere.

She wakes early to provide for and organize her home (v 15).

3. WISDOM IN FINANCES (Prov 31: 16-18)

She makes financially wise purchases (v 16).

She is a strong, tireless worker in making her merchandise profitable (vv17-18).

4. WISDOM IN PROVIDING FOR FAMILY/POOR (Prov 31:19-21)

She works to provide warm, beautiful clothing for her family, preparing ahead of time (vv 19,21a).

She carefully assesses and provides for the needs of her family.

She uses her hard work and financial wisdom to give liberally to the poor and needy (v 20).

She is not so focused on her family alone that she does not see and/or ignores the needs of others around her.

5. WISDOM IN REPUTATION (Prov 31:22-24)

She makes herself expensive clothing.

Her wise uses of money and resources allowed her to present herself and her home in an attractive manner (v22).

She promotes the reputation of her husband (v 23).

Her work was of such worth as to be able to be sold to merchants (v 24).

6. WISDOM IN CHARACTER (Prov 31: 25-27)

She is a strong, dignified woman who does not need to fear the future, because she has acted wisely (v 25).

Her speech is characterized by wisdom and kindness (v 26).

Imagine if we put the wise and kind filter on before we said anything?!

She is alert and careful in watching over her family, not giving in to laziness (v 27).

7. WISDOM RECOGNIZED (Prov 31:28-29)

Those who knew her besther children and husbandpraise her. In their eyes, she is the greatest of all women.

Do those who know us best praise us for our wisdom and godliness?

8. CONCLUDING PRAISE (Prov 31:30-31)

One’s physical beauty is nothing compared to the character of a woman who fears the Lord (v 30).

The woman’s hard work brings praise from others (v 31).

Think of one who has been an example of wisdom and godliness. Praise the Lord for that woman and thank her for her example!

CONCLUSION

None of us will ever measure up to the epitome of household wisdom as portrayed by the Proverbs 31 woman. Yet we can apply the wisdom exemplified to specific situations in our own lives. Take a look at your own finances, work ethic, reputation, and character. Her wisdom was applied in every area of life. There were no “freebies” in which she had a pass to live foolishly (although I’m sure she did at times, just as we do at times). Strive to live wisely with the time God has given you.

We women have a glorious opportunity to live out the Gospel every day in our homes. 1 Timothy 2:15 talks about women being “saved through childbearing.” We show the gloriousness of the saving grace of the Gospel (the “fear of the Lord” in Proverbs) through the normal activities of our lives, such as childbearing. We live out the Gospel, we are sanctified  through motherhood/womanhood as we are faithful to put Christ on display in all that we do. {For an excellent message on this topic on putting Christ on display in our everyday lives, I highly encourage you to listen to this sermon}

 **The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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