Category Archives: OPINION

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HOW WOMEN CAN MAKE CHURCH A SAFE PLACE FOR MEN

When we dress provocatively, we dishonor God and display a lack of regard for His holiness. We can also become a distraction for our brothers in Christ.

I’d been traveling all weekend, and my flight from California to the East Coast got in at midnight. All I wanted to do was go home, drop my suitcases and hit the sack.

But the story my husband had waiting for me made me drop my jaw and want to hit—well, not the sack!

“She was just visiting our church service this morning,” he began haltingly.

He didn’t notice her at first, he said. But then came “greeting time.”

“Bob, I’d like you to meet John’s cousin,” a friend said as he introduced her.

That’s when my husband’s mind began to whirl. He’d heard about her. She was the one with the perfect—well, let’s just say she qualified to be a fitting model for Victoria’s Secret. You figure out what was perfect!

Through the rest of the service he was restless. Intrigued. Annoyed.

He wasn’t the only one; I asked.

Many of our friends were introduced to her that day, and like us, they had heard about her unique career. I asked all the men the same question: “What did she look like?”

The funny thing is, none of them could quite remember her face. But they all remembered her skin-tight leather pants with the lace-up fly.

Please understand that my husband, Bob, is a godly man in full-time Christian ministry. Like most men, though, he is subject to visual temptation.

Christian psychologist Mark Laaser estimates that 30 percent of Christian pastors and leaders struggle with pornography. Among Christian men in general, more than 60 percent are estimated to struggle with continual sexual compulsions of some type.

Those are scary numbers. I wouldn’t share them with you if they hadn’t been substantiated repeatedly.

My husband’s ministry involves helping men of all ages live lives of mental purity—a battle he himself wages daily. Bob gets into the faces of other men and asks them to name the specific distractions they need to remove from their lives in order to live in sexual integrity.

You’d expect them to name temptations such as the Internet, R-rated movies, magazine covers, even the giant Victoria’s Secret display ads in the mall. But sadly, they often point to a surprisingly different pit—and they fall into it every Sunday.

“I’m struggling with the way women dress in church,” they groan. They are specific in adding those two words—in church—because the location is what makes them feel so vulnerable.

After all, isn’t church supposed to be a place where they can go to be free from temptation? What’s a guy to do when the woman in his Sunday school class keeps showing up in a tight shirt and miniskirt, announcing it was a little cold in the parking lot?

I suppose he could sit on the front row every week. But come on, sisters! It’s time we accept some responsibility for this predicament.

Many of us are sinning where the men in our churches are concerned—and in the process, we’re sinning against God.

As Christian women, our greatest desire should be to please God in everything we do. First Peter 3:3 reminds us, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment. … Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (NIV).

But some of us are getting up on Sunday mornings and adorning ourselves in ways that aren’t pleasing to God. The outfits we choose are intended to cause all eyes—especially men’s eyes—to be on us.

For the sake of our brothers in Christ, not to mention the health of our personal relationships with God, we need to do four things:

1. We need to understand the power of certain kinds of visual images.

Have you heard of the Gestalt theory? It’s a visual design theory that teaches designers to control the attention of their viewers by forcing the viewers to mentally complete a visual image.

According to the theory, the challenge of completing an image that is incomplete intrigues the human brain. Our minds will always pause to finish an unfinished picture.

Try it yourself by checking out this trio of circles. What else do you see?

You think you see a triangle, don’t you? That’s because a triangle is the most common image that your brain can come up with to complete this picture.

Now let’s apply the Gestalt theory to the issue at hand. What happens when a man sees a woman walk by wearing a low-cut blouse or a long, tight skirt with a slit all the way up the sides? He pauses—maybe even does a double take—because he sees something in part, and his brain wants to complete the picture.

He can’t help it. It’s a simple fact of visual science!

2. We need to understand the special weakness of men for a woman’s beauty.

The power of the Gestalt principle is multiplied by the fact that men have a God-given craving for a woman’s beauty. Proverbs 5:18-19 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always. May you be ever intoxicated by her sex.”

I italicized two of the last four words in that verse because I changed them to better reflect the actual Hebrew meaning of the passage. The God of the universe looks down at woman, created to be a physical masterpiece, and man, created to enjoy the view, and actually encourages man to be fully intoxicated by her sexuality. Wow!

When a guy gets “intoxicated,” his body can’t help but react. Physiologically, many of our bodies’ responses are activated by something called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system is controlled not by the will but by the environment.

For example, have you ever lost one of your small children at the mall, if only for a moment? Do you remember the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach? The rapid pulse?

Your body reacted automatically to the situation. You cannot control such reactions by choice. That’s how the ANS works—it forces the body to respond to the environment.

Sexual arousal operates the same way. Certain things in the environment—what we see, what we hear, what we smell—work together to tell the brain that the time is right for sexual response. The ANS takes over, and the brain reacts by sending specific chemicals through the body.

In a man this reaction is particularly strong since God created him to be visually stimulated. If he sees a woman walk by wearing revealing clothing, his pulse may increase; his body temperature may rise. Other changes may take place as well.

Of course, all this is beautiful and even celebrated by almighty God when the woman responsible for the arousal is the man’s wife. But too often that’s not the case.

Our culture constantly bombards us with sexual content in movies, magazines, advertisements and more. It’s enough to overwhelm even the most godly man.

And though he can choose how to act upon this arousal, he frequently cannot control that it occurs. The environment controls it.

Exposing a man to continual visual stimulation is like hanging a noose around the neck of his spiritual life! Yet many Christian women contribute to the hanging Sunday after Sunday.

3. We need to call immodesty what it really is.

The Bible is emphatic: We must never do anything to cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble (see 1 Cor. 10:32). That’s an uncomfortable challenge for those of us who’ve been lulled into thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just fashion!”

We may squirm even more when we read Ephesians 5:3: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

Get that? Not a hint of sexual sin! But aren’t we hinting at sin when we wear a low-cut blouse, a tight T-shirt or a super-short skirt?

According to its Hebrew and Greek definitions, sin means missing God’s intended purpose for our lives. So what is God’s purpose when it comes to our sexuality? Proverbs 5:18-19 says that it’s to intoxicate one man with our beauty.

We are no doubt quite capable of getting many stares. But God says that the unique characteristics of our sensual beauty are to be treasured secrets—secrets kept for one man. When we dress immodestly, creating arousal in many men, we miss the purpose of the carefully crafted masterpiece that is our body.

Is it just a matter of fashion? No. Immodesty is sin.

4. We need to develop a righteous response to the crisis immodesty has created in the church.

As you read this, maybe you feel a twinge of guilt. I know I felt one as I worked recently on a new book for teenage girls on the subject of modesty. Perhaps you need to clean a few things out of your closet, as I did.

Maybe you see a reason for concern in your church. Don’t be afraid to ask a women’s Bible study leader or perhaps even your pastor to address the issue. God’s call for purity in the lives of His people is worthy of the tremendous effort it will take to break through the strongholds of denial in this area of sin.

If you’re married, be ready to help your husband walk through a visually tempting world. When I came home to the news that a Victoria’s Secret model had unexpectedly visited my husband’s mind, I didn’t condemn him or react with jealousy or hurt. Rather, I thanked him for sharing his struggle with me.

We talked about it until 2 in the morning. As Bob opened his heart, I was able to erase the shame that had been caused by this woman’s indiscretion. We agreed to work together to make sure visual temptation is treated with a zero-tolerance policy in our home.

Whether you are married or not, it’s important to set a good example. Make certain the clothes you pull out of your closet on Sunday morning—and every day of the week—are a statement of your commitment to live a godly life.

Source: Charismanews.com

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Why Are “Christian” Women Watching ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

The unavoidable truth is that many are becoming desensitized. When the Holy Spirit no longer fills hearts and minds with a passion for purity and holiness, there is a general lack of conviction.

Compromise in this area can be well illustrated through a story that I heard years ago.

Eskimos in the barren North often kill wolves by taking a razor sharp knife and dipping it in blood. They allow the blood to freeze to the blade. Then they bury the handle of the knife in the snow with the blade exposed. As the wolf begins to lick the blade, his tongue becomes numb and desensitized due to the cold. As he continues, his tongue begins to bleed, and he licks even faster—unaware that he is consuming his own blood and slowly killing himself.

Within time, the Eskimos return and bring the dead animal home. In the same way, the enemy numbs us through compromise. Within time, we, like the wolves, don’t realize that we are dying—dying spiritually. The enemy desensitizes us until we are numb to the things of God.

A famous quote resounds with clarity for us today: “All the water in the world, no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a ship unless it gets inside. All the evil influence of the world, no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a Christian’s soul unless it gets inside.”

The greatest battle we will ever fight is within. Our mind is where the battle is either won or lost: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov. 3:27). Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two forces are constantly fighting against each other.

As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. Don’t be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment to Christ and His standard of holiness.

There is a very troubling trend toward moral compromise in the evangelical church. I’ve witnessed soft porn images on Christian websites, questionable movie clips during PowerPoint sermons, and youth pastors talk about their favorite sexually charged TV show or movie with the youth, all under the guise of “relating” to the culture.

Most walk away from Christ not because He fails them, or because the Word of God proves to be untrue, but because of the love of this world (gratifying the flesh). We cannot overlook the seriousness of this issue. Jesus said that the worries and desires of this world, along with the deceitfulness of wealth, come in and choke the Word of God, making it unfruitful (cf. Mark 4:19).

The passion we once had for the purity of God’s Word can easily be exchanged for the pollutants of the world. For this reason, I take every opportunity to write about making wise entertainment choices. What we put into our mind affects our relationship with God at a very deep level.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Love not the world [the worlds mindset], neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

What we watch and listen to affects the heart—it’s impossible to separate the two. If we would make it our goal to know Christ more personally, we would preach Christ more powerfully. For example, if a pastor (or Christian leader) fills his mind with the world all week and expects the Spirit of God to speak boldly through him from the pulpit, he will be gravely mistaken. E.M. Bounds said, “The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher.”

Carnal Christians give God “His due” (a few hours on Sunday), but they forget His call to “come out from among them (the world) and be separate.” Every day of the week is the world influencing you? What does your mental media diet consist of? Who do you hang out with? What, and whom, do you listen to? Is your heart set toward the things of God or the world’s influence? A quick peruse of your “likes” and posts on Facebook reveals what we truly value.

Compromise also deceives. James 1:22 reminds us that if we listen to God’s Word without doing it that we are fooling ourselves … we are deceived. The power of God’s Word lies in the application. In addition to non-Christians, it is Christians who are moving sexually explicit and violent movies to the Top 10 by not applying purity to their lives. It is Christians who are addicted to porn and supplying the revenue to fuel the industry.

We cannot love both Christ and this world. Carnality destroys our relationship with Christ and genuine fellowship with other believers. It destroys our prayer life as well. A carnal Christian does not pray, really pray and seek the heart of God. A deep prayer life exposes facades and crushes hypocrisy. Carnality also destroys spiritual power and hinders the infilling of the Spirit. It also affects our home life. In short, everything that God calls us to be is compromised.

Being selective with what we watch and listen to has nothing to do with legalism; it has everything to do with wisdom. We are to recognize what glorifies Christ and what clearly does not then choose accordingly. Grace does not relieve us of responsibility. We actually live under a higher standard when grace guides our decisions, not rules. It’s not about following rules. Let your freedom in Christ, and a relationship with Him, guide you. We’ve all watched questionable material and have made wrong choices; don’t live with ongoing regret. But don’t justify wrong behavior by thinking that God doesn’t care about what you watch or listen to, He does. We serve and love God with our mind. (See Romans 7:25.)

Watch my sermon, “Are You Wheat or Tare?”

Shane Idleman is the author of the “What Works” book series and “One Nation Above God.”

Unless otherwise specified, the opinions expressed are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Charisma Media.

Source: charismanews.com

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Beyoncé Releases Mini-Documentary Highlighting Racial Injustice (VIDEO)

Reactions from Beyoncé’s Grammy performance of notable gospel song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” has drawn a great deal of attention from fans on social media. And while some may feel the international pop star slighted Ledisi from performing the track, who sang the song in the movie “Selma,” Beyoncé has revealed how personal the tune is to her family lineage.

On Monday, via her official website and YouTube channel, “Queen Bey” released an exclusive 8-minute documentary titled, “’Take My Hand, Precious Lord’: The Voices” highlighting rehearsal footage of her performance and interviews with her background singers sharing their thoughts on racial injustice.

In addition to the Grammy Award-winner recollecting childhood memories of her mother, Tina, playing Mahalia Jackson’s original version of the song, she also discussed singing the ballad in honor of black men including her father and former manager, Mathew.

“I wanted to find real men that have lived, that have struggled, cried, have a light and a spirit about them,” Beyoncé said in the clip. “I felt like this is an opportunity to show the strength and vulnerability in black men.”

“My grandparents marched with Dr. King and my father was part of the first generation of black men that attended an all-white school,” she continued.

“My father has grown up with a lot of trauma from those experiences. I feel like now I can sing for his pain, I can sing for my grandparents’ pain. I can sing for some of the families that have lost their sons.”

Source: huffingtonpost.com

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Opinion: I’m not Charlie

(CNN)- In the aftermath of the heinous attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France, many are tweeting and writing in solidarity: Je suis Charlie. But I’m not. Because I am not Charlie.

Of course, I unequivocally support the right to free speech. Period. And I also believe in choosing to exercise that right responsibly and respectfully. That’s why I would not have published cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed, insulting 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide in the process (and no, I wouldn’t have published many of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons insulting Judaism and Christianity, either).

In no way should this be taken — as it has been by some on Twitter — to suggest that I somehow condone the killings of Charlie Hebdo’s staff. That’s a ridiculously insulting idea and just plain wrong. It’s possible to honor and protect the free speech rights of publications like Charlie Hebdo while simultaneously believing such cartoons are unnecessarily disrespectful and offensive.

As others have pointed out, in the wake of the Paris attacks we’ve conflated support for free speech with support for the actual speech in question. But while I unquestionably support the free speech rights of the KKK and “god hates fags” protesters, for example, that clearly doesn’t mean I would support, never mind join in, their hateful messages. Some on the right insist that media should have to re-print Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Islam cartoons or else they’re cowardly. However, this is a fundamental perversion of free speech, to say the least. There is no inconsistency between supporting free speech for Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and finding the content of some of their cartoons offensive and disrespectful.

I don’t profess to be a scholar of Islam. But it’s plain that some branches or interpretations of the faith view any depictions of the Prophet Mohammed as blasphemy. That doesn’t mean that all Muslims who see such depictions as blasphemy think the appropriate response is violence; far from it. But a radical few do, and, as Middle East commentator Juan Cole has argued, they exploit such defamations against the prophet to try to radicalize others in the faith.

Unfortunately, there are some in the West who think all of Islam is tainted, and who — despite there being plenty of violence and intolerance in the texts and histories of Judaism and Christianity — believe Islam is somehow uniquely violent and intolerant. But when we mistakenly believe that a narrow and violent interpretation of Islam is the only true version, we play right into the hands of the radical zealots who want the world, including all Muslims, to believe precisely that.

The reality is that the Muslim world isn’t just the leadership of Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also Indonesia and Mali. And it’s worth pointing out that several Muslim countries have elected or appointed female heads of state, something the United States has yet to manage. And also that while much remains to be done on advancing gay rights, gay bars do still exist in Lebanon and in Jordan. Unfortunately, about 60 percent of Americans don’t know a single Muslim, and so may only know about Islam what the media reports about terrorists.

It is important to remember that there are a wide variety of interpretations and practices of Islam worldwide, including an active debate on those interpretations among scholars and spiritual leaders.

Sadly, I have to wonder if Charlie Hebdo had been attacked for cartoons insulting Christians, whether there would be a similar outpouring in support of the magazine, especially in the United States. After all, many of the same people outraged just a month ago about the alleged “War on Christmas” have no qualms about launching a “War on Islam” because, well, it’s not their religion being mischaracterized and insulted. It unsettles me to think that the reason so much of the outpouring of support for Charlie Hebdo is driven not just by the violence suffered or a defense of free speech, but by the opportunity to implicitly support jabs at Islam. But judging by some of the coverage, it seems a fair assumption to make.

Indeed, on the same day of the attack in Paris, a bomb was placed outside the offices of an NAACP chapter in Colorado. Thankfully, no one died in that attack, but it was still a bomb on U.S. soil and yet the story was absent from much of the mainstream media. Had Muslims been the suspects, I think it’s fair to say there would have been much more attention paid.

As someone with a public voice, my free speech benefits from an extra megaphone, and while the principle of free speech means I can say what I want whenever I want it, in practice I try to think carefully about the impact of my words — and how they might be felt among others whether or not they share my belief system.

Personally, I believe in not saying something just because I want to speak, but because I want to be heard. So, for instance, I don’t casually condemn or denigrate people’s religions because I want people of faith to hear me. All religions face the struggle of progressing from rigid tradition to evolving modernity, and so I want my voice to be clear and constructive in supporting that progress.

Put another way, when I open my mouth, I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution. I want to help Islam and Christianity and Judaism and society in general become more open and inclusive and democratic and liberated. Free speech is fundamentally essential to that project. So is respect. In the aftermath of the heinous attacks in Paris, it’s important we remember that free speech and respect can go hand-in-hand.

Source: CNN
Picture source: worldpopulationstatistics.com

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Erica Campbell Educates People On The Difference Between God and Satan’s Voice

Erica Campbell may be known for her gospel music, but the Mary Mary group member is also using social media to educate people about learning the difference between the voice of Jesus and Satan.

Campbell, the 33-year-old “HELP” singer, took to Twitter and Instagram to give fans insight about telling the difference between the voice of God and Satan’s voice.

“No heart is an empty heart! Either Jesus is in control or Satan is in control,” Campbell wrote. “Who’s in control Gods way gets Gods results! Stop letting Satan talk to you!”

She went on to speak about the importance of avoiding negative thoughts.

“Those negative thoughts aren’t yours they’re his! U been listening so long, you can’t hear God anymore,” she wrote. “Who’s been in your ear? Who do you listen to?”

The singer explained how her followers could get to know the voice of God.

“Read the Bible today to learn God voice There’s no excuse not to, it’s on your phone, there are different versions of the bible so you can understand and comprehend and apply it to your life #seekHimfindHim #Satanwantsyourcompleteattention,”

she wrote.

Earlier this year, the singer announced that she would add church leader to her resume with The California Worship Center. Erica and her husband Warryn Campbell III have decided to become church leaders after hosting Bible studies in hotel rooms.

Warryn, the My Block Records CEO, who has produced music for his wife and her sister Tina in their group Mary Mary for years, has inspired a direction for the church.

“Warryn is real serious about ministry and wants to make sure that, above all, it is God-centered,” she said on The Yolanda Adams Morning Show earlier this year. “We kind of take the approach of [reaching out to] the broken, wounded people who have kind of been jaded by church and don’t want to go no more.”

Soure: Christianpost.com
Image: salon.com