My son Peyton is the origami master at our house. We have folded paper all over the place. He makes some pretty awesome creations (we have our whole family in origami form, clothes and all). He once gave me an origami trophy that he wrote “World’s #1 Mom!” on. Except, because of how Peyton writes his “1”s, it looked like “World’s #2 Mom!” I get a kick out of it because it kind of sums up how I feel about my motherhood - just not quite perfect. Not a 10, but closer to a 9. Not 100%, but maybe 90%. Not 1st place, but second…ish…on a good day.
As a mom I often say the wrong things or say the right things the wrong way. I struggle to be consistent with discipline and often give too much correction. Sometimes I forget to give hugs and other times I smother the poor kids. I don’t think I have ever felt like I have this position mastered. If I did, it probably came right before screwing up. Like forgetting to pick my kid up from practice. Or leaving one behind at church (twice). Or consistently calling them by the dog’s name.
My guess is that you often feel the same way. I want to let you know that this is an okay place to be - in fact, it is an awesome place to be. Motherhood is God’s gift to remind us that there is no way we can do this parenting thing without Him. No matter how much we love them, we are incapable of raising our kids well without being fully dependent on Him every day.
God uses “second-rate” moms like us because there are no other types. All of us fall short of perfection because there is no such thing as a perfect person, only a perfect God (see Rom. 3:10 and Ps. 18:30). So if we are his, we can rejoice that he will work through us. He will use these jars of ordinary clay that we are for extraordinary purposes. “Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7. We are clay, not gold, so any shine that we display comes from him.
So as we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend and words of love and praise come your way, be thankful and gracious but direct ALL glory to God. He alone is the cause of any good that comes out of what we do as mothers. He deserves all the credit. “…I will not boast about myself, except in my weaknesses.” 2 Cor. 12:5.
Direct your children to the awesomeness of God and tell them that he is their perfect Father who will never forget them, leave them behind or use the wrong name!
Ladies, when was the last time you felt radiant? Been awhile? Yeah, me too. I was recently staring into my closet wondering if it’s a bad sign that many of my clothing purchases in the last year have come from Sam’s Club… wait, don’t answer that, I know the answer. As women our lives are so full of demands, chores, and people to take care of that we rarely spend time thinking about being radiant. Usually “good enough” or “not too bad” will do.
Today, I want to change your attitude in that area and mine too. First, what does it mean to be radiant? Radiant means to send out light, to glow or shine. In regards to a person it is as if that person is emanating light, joy or gladness. These are just my simplified definitions. If you are radiant, you are certainly having an effect on those around you and it is obvious something awesome is going on inside of you.
The verse that got me thinking on this idea of radiance is found in Jeremiah 31:12, “and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord”. Why will they be radiant? Because of the “goodness of the Lord”! No mention of stylish clothes, make-up or a good tan. Duh, radiance couldn’t be caused by any of those things, they are outside of you. Radiance is something that emanates from the inside out.
That verse is part of a chapter in which God is speaking through his prophet Jeremiah telling of the restoration of the Israelites to their land and to himself. Here are a few more awesome snippets from chapter 31: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (v. 3), he will gather them and keep them “as a shepherd keeps his flock.” (v. 10), “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (v. 13), “my heart yearns for him, I will certainly have mercy on him” (v. 20), and “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (v. 33).
With a God loving you like that, how could you keep from being radiant with joy? This God is certainly overflowing with goodness. In fact, he is goodness.
Do you belong to and serve the God that wrote the Bible? How about the book of Jeremiah? Chapter 31? Yes, yes and yes for me. I pray it is true for you too. Then what are we waiting for?? Our radiance does not come from anything we can put on these bodies (whether from Sam’s or Saks) but what resides within us – which is the goodness of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
If my radiance is dependent on the goodness of God, I should blind people when I walk by. So how does this happen? The answer is also so perfectly in Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 14, “my people will be satisfied with my goodness”. God’s people find their full and perfect satisfaction in God alone. If you are one of God’s people, find your full satisfaction in his goodness. Soak yourself in God’s Word, be with him in prayer. We should be so filled with the abundance of God’s love, grace and mercy that it consumes our being from the inside out and overflows onto a needy and dark world. What a glorious picture. It is a gospel picture.
Jesus radiated love for me when he poured out his blood on the cross. In this act he paid my ransom price and now I am eternally secure and all the words spoken in Jeremiah chapter 31 are meant for me. How could I be dissatisfied??
In a world filled with women trying so hard to accessorize themselves into beauty or to live a “good life” hoping that will translate into being a “good person”, we should shine like the sun. While they are hoping all their work on the outside will seep into their soul, we stand confident that Jesus has done the work already and our soul is beautiful. Therefore we do not fear, we are satisfied.
If the Holy Spirit lives inside you, he should be shining through you. Ladies, find your full satisfaction in the goodness of God and be radiant.
I believe every woman has a natural desire to be beautiful; a desire to be found attractive and pleasing to others. But what is beautiful? What makes someone truly beautiful? In order to know this we must turn to the book of ultimate standards, God’s word. We, as Christian women, can use no other source as our guide and measuring stick in this or any other area of our lives.
The Bible is full of wisdom, but does it really speak specifically to the physical beauty of women? Our loving God knows what concerns us and does not leave us to wonder how to live. I have not found a topic yet that is not covered in God’s word. So, yes there are scriptures that speak to this topic and quite directly.
Last week I discussed modesty and how we need to be aware of how we dress so that we are not selfishly trying to steal attention and glory away from God. Knowing that we need to be modest in our dress leads to questions of whether it is okay to beautify ourselves and should we work at being beautiful? Let’s revisit our scripture:
“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.” - Timothy 2:9-10
Notice the words “women should adorn themselves”. It is certainly okay for women to adorn (to add to or enhance) themselves, but what they adorn themselves with is of utmost importance. This should not be with excessive hairstyling, jewelry or pricy clothing, but with good works. How do you put on good works?
Adornment is a verb, a word of action. Our faith is made known by what we do and how we live (see James 2:18, Matt. 7:20). You put on good works by doing good works; by spending yourself on what pleases God and blesses others in his name. When our lives produce fruit in keeping with the Spirit within us, those around us are able to witness an outward demonstration of internal beauty.
Adorning yourself with good works makes perfect sense. What is absolute, perfect beauty? God. God in perfect bodily form is Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19). Only when we have Jesus within us can we be beautiful; only when others see Christ evident and manifested in our lives can we be seen as beautiful. This needs to become your new definition of what human beauty is. Christ living within you and shining through you.
Peter apparently agreed with Paul. When speaking to women in 1 Peter 3:4 he says, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Who is this “hidden person of the heart”? This is your true self; the heart of who you are that has been redeemed and washed clean by the Savior. We are made into something new and beautiful when Christ chooses us to be his (Col. 3:12).
A “gentle and quiet spirit” comes from fully trusting in a God that is unmovable and unchanging, forever perfect and loving. A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit does not get ruffled or anxious because there is no fear of what is to come or what has been. This is a woman who has given herself completely over to the will of God and walks confidently in his grasp. She is kind, peaceful and even tempered. This is a beautiful woman and she is precious in the sight of God. There is no better prize than to be precious to God.
A beautiful woman entrusts herself to the Lord and not the world, God alone provides her unwavering standards. Worldly beauty will never satisfy; it is too temporary and fleeting. Godly beauty gets more profound, improves with time and it is promised to be “imperishable”!
So yes, Ladies, I enCOURAGE you to work at being beautiful to the best of your abilities. Understand God’s perfect plan to conform you to the likeness of his son. Only then can we experience true beauty as we reflect his.
We are to keep our eyes trained on the pure beauty of Jesus Christ and not on our own physical vanity. We need to delight and be fully satisfied “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,” - Psalms 27:4.
I was recently talking with the group from our church that will soon be in Guatemala for a mission trip. I was discussing proper dress code while there. I informed them that we could not wear any inappropriate clothing: nothing too short, too low, too thin or too tight. I also asked them not to wear excessive jewelry or make-up.
After this meeting, I started thinking how strange it was that this issue of modesty needed to be addressed at all. As committed Christians, shouldn’t this be the norm for us every day? We will be representing Christ to others in Guatemala, yet aren’t we always representing Christ? What an eye opener for me in how I dress for Christ in my day to day life.
As Christian women do we need to be so concerned about how we dress? Is it really that important? Let’s check the Word:
“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.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10
The answer is yes, we need to dress ourselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control. Why? We need to remember our purpose here on Earth, why God continues to allow us to breathe. We were created by him and for him (Colossians 1:16) and all we do needs to be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes how we dress. We should dress in a way that pleases God and reflects his goodness.
Here are the hard questions to ask yourself: Do you dress for your own glory or for the glory of God? Does what you wear distract from the gospel purposes in your life? Does it distract others from the gospel purposes in their life (causing lust, envy, confusion, etc.)? If you dress to illicit attention or approval from others, you are what Carolyn Mahaney calls a “glory thief” in her book, True Beauty. We are stealing glory from God; we are desiring it more for ourselves than for him. These are strong words, but they hit the mark - I certainly do not want to be a glory thief!
So, what are the limits, just where is that line that we should not cross in how we dress? Ladies, don’t give me this. The rule is not to play with the line, but to stay away from it. I believe we women are very aware of what is acceptable and what is not. We know when we are wearing something that accentuates and draws attention to certain areas. I’m telling you (and me) to knock it off. If you stand in a mirror before leaving the house and feel sexy, time to change. Sexy stays home with your husband.
Listen carefully, the opposite of “modesty” is not “beautiful” or even “stylish”. The opposite of modesty is immodesty which is direct sin. If you don’t like modesty it means you prefer sin and that is living in opposition to God. Whoa, more tough stuff! Yep, sure is. God takes what we do with our bodies very seriously:
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Our bodies are not our own, they were bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. Our bodies are to be used to glorify God and not ourselves.
Beautiful modesty is in no way an oxymoron. You cannot be beautiful unless you are modest. You must possess a godly modesty that flows from your love of pleasing God through obedience to him in your outward appearance. Beauty is a radiance from the inside to the outside.
This begs the questions: how then should we adorn ourselves? How are we to be beautiful? Is it even okay to be beautiful? So glad you asked! Our gracious God does not leave us without help in this important area. One week from today, I will answer these very questions.
I enCOURAGE you to take this seriously. Train yourself and teach your daughters to be beautifully modest for the glory of God.