Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Innocent as Doves, Wise as Serpents: Adorning Your Heart Part 2

"The purity that counts for most in your life and mine is purity of heart... There is a rest of spirit, and a quiet confidence, a joyfulness, and a perfection of love and peace in the heart of the one given over to God that cannot be described in words... Every one who will seek God with all his heart, who will draw close, may have this experience of a pure heart." Mabel Hale, Beautiful Girlhood

~Lately I have been contemplating the relationship between knowledge and innocence. How many times have you read something on the news, which may have been quite intriguing in the moment, and later felt convicted of having allowed something trashy to enter your mind? Or watched a movie that had even more than the usual set of problems? Or perhaps allowed an acquaintance to "fill you in" on the nitty gritty details of some other friends life - which you probably didn't need to know?

~These are obvious examples of times when we step over the line of "need to know". What is much harder to discern is the fine balance between "living in the world, but not of it".

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." John 17:14-16
 
~One of the finest adornments a heart can have is purity. This is because in a world so spoiled by sin, greed, lust, hate, bloodshed, unchecked violence, and anger, the purity and innocence of Gods children is a great light. It speaks of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and points to the promise and hope of that day when all shall be made new - the day all creation groans for! God loves a pure heart and desires that we seek after it as a precious jewel when seeking adornments for our hearts.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2

~The renewing of our minds. What a term brimming with meaning. Notice that it says renewing, not renew. Its an ongoing process in our lives, a part of the sanctification process. We will need to be constantly on guard against letting impure influences enter our thoughts. We need to valiantly defend our innocence from things that are evil... At the same time we need to be wise in what is good, as well as the times we live in.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Mathew 10:16

~It is interesting that we often only seem to focus on the negative side of things, asking ourselves the question - "Is this bad?" Instead it may be more helpful to ask ourselves - "How will this edify me? Will this strengthen my desires for Christ?" You will be amazed at how much clearer decisions can become when we look at issues in a positive light. It will cut out a lot of questions, or harmless "neutral" stuff, that we really didn't need to spend our time on anyways. Of course, I'm not saying we can never watch a movie, or read a book, or go shopping at a store for that matter, unless it is distinctly christian and definitely going to produce some positive fruit in us. But our overall focus in life should be to produce good fruit, by glorifying God in all that we do. Chances are if we let ourselves hop over to the neutral zone too much, that may be what we become, neutral in the war for godliness.

~Here's a little list I've drawn up of areas where we should be especially careful to guard our purity, and our innocence. Save your exposure for times when we really must confront evil, and overcome it with good. Why dwell unnecessarily on things that will confuse, distort, taint, and otherwise clutter up your mind, all for the sake of entertainment? We live in the world - we have to battle with impurity every day. No soldier wants to leave the battlefield, come home weary and tired, only to fight another battle on the couch with his entertainment!

Movies
Books
Magazines
News Articles/Websites
Music/Radio
TV Shows
Blogs
Friends/Acquaintances
Random Quizzes and Games on Facebook, or any website for that matter! (I know, its sort of a funny thing to add, but its true that these can sometimes be big distractions and sources of useless information!)

~Another benefit in seeking purity of spirit is that your witness will not by hindered by inconsistency or accusations of hypocrisy. The other night we were all gathered for family devotions and I watched as my mother patiently explained an important spiritual truth to my seven year old brother. He was having a very hard time concentrating, in fact, he looked like he was about to burst out the seams! All the while my mother kept talking in a very calm, patient, manner - hoping to settle him down. Finally, unable to contain it any longer, my brother politely inserted - "Excuse me mom, but, your pants are on inside out!" We all looked at her pants, which were indeed, on inside out. Needless to say, the rest of the devotions was a bit lost in hilarity!

~ In a similar way inconsistency distracts those we are witnessing to. Its like watching a very devout man give what must be a very devout sermon, but his clothes are all upside down and backwards. No one can hear what he's saying because he's just so ridiculous... At best the world finds inconsistent Christians funny, amusing, maybe a somewhat tolerable kind of pal. At worst they are affronted, justified in their opinions about "religion", and label Christians hypocrites.

~Resolve to seek out influences that will edify and build you up. Resolve to set aside influences that will destroy your innocence and purity. God will be pleased!

~Here's a list of some blogs, websites, and online ministries, that have encouraged me in thinking pure thoughts - and in doing away with unedifying influences.

The Rebelution
Issacharian Daughter
Pearls and Diamonds 
Beauty From the Heart
Joyfully at Home
Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

~Resolve to follow the Lord while it is still today! In Christ,

4 comments:

Justice Pirate said...

I always tell my youth that it is better for them to NOT see something or to NOT be around a certain crowd even if they thing they will be able to be untouched by it. They don't realize how they can easily fall into sin. I have never been to a party in my life and I am proud to say how I have never touched alcohol, and I want them to be able to not give into peer pressure. You know what I mean? They think that they are the babysitters at a party but one day they might try it and fall into the sin. As for movies, there was a 6th grader that I have in my youth group who told me how she watched a movie that was PG-13 in theatres and that the people who know she is a Christian at school all said she was getting cooler because of it, but at the same time they questioned her on seeing it. She said, "it wasn't as bad as most pg-13 films" and I said, "but the thing is it can really harm your spirit and bring you down and on top of it these people who are looking up to you as a Christian, they want you to fail and fall badly." she said, "really??? i didn't know that" this poor child also has come to youth group with a book that I asked to look through because my best friend threw it out. She is the other co-founder of our ruby-eyed Okapi and told me there was a lot of language and sexual content in the book. I told the girl, "I don't think your parents would appreciate you reading this." and she said, "but my friend told me I HAD to read it." it is very sad because she also said her friend told her she had to see a lady gaga video that I sadly had watched because I DO watch a lot of these things in order to help others.

So that brings me to the next point. I used to watch stuff like that for the thrill. Now I get so uncomfortable and upset in order of seeing them, but I figure if I don't and tell people what is in them to help them stay away from it, then they are going to watch it and think nothing about it as wrong. So I pick out what could harm someone. I don't know how to explain it but I greive while watching things. . .When people tend to see them they have this coldness like it doesn't matter.

I hope I am making sense with what I am saying. I tend to fast forward through things. My spirit sadly was stripped away as a child where I saw too much. . like I saw Rambo at age 3 because of my Dad.. . and much worse things he brought into the home. It was bad. I think God has helped use me to help inform people because in situations like the youth group, in telling them what is really going on where their own parents don't tell them, it opens their eyes and then they feel a guilt when they are around a certain situation and it makes them so uncomfortable that they stop doing things....and think on Jesus instead and obeying Him. For instance, once a month I listen to a little bit of the pop music charts on billboard.com so I can understand what the songs are about that my youth kids are singing. A lot of them have no idea. It makes them think over the message of the song and not listen or sing it any more. Their parents aren't paying attention or instructing them at all. This is also why I am chosen in my church as the "bad guy" to go up to parents of girls who aren't wearing very modest clothes. . .because the parents don't realize the harm that can happen to their kids. One mom said to me, "She's at that age already??" when I explained that some of the little boys were checking out her 14 year old in her mini skirt. They are oblivious. :: sigh :: ah, the joys of church leadership and I am sure people gossip about me all the time. It is best to be concerned about doing right than about worrying how I might appeal to them though.

sorry this is so long!! haha.

Fiddlin Girl said...

Really great article, Lauren! Thank you so much for sharing. That question "will it edify me?" Is the best. I am going to have to use that next time. Usually I will ask if it is wrong, and typically it isn't "wrong", but it doesn't edify me!!

Can I link these two articles to my blog? I know lots of girls who would enjoy reading them. :)

Love in Christ,
Sarah

Lauren said...

Victoria,

Thanks for sharing some of your experiences. (And don't worry about length, I can be quite wordy too when I get going :)

It IS so important to guard against bad influences, especially young people who don't yet have the wisdom that comes from spending much time in Gods Word, and living a life dedicated to God!

I've had some of the same dilemmas - reading books, watching movies, listening to music, so that I can use the information I glean to help others. Its sometimes difficult to know how to pick and choose, I don't want to "disturb" myself, but, I also feel the need to be able to help others discern what is wrong in the matter at hand. And its not always possible to do that without surveying the material itself. People can be very defensive when it comes to these areas - and I find that more often than not, it helps my "credibility" when I can relate because I've actually heard/watched/read the material.

At the same time, there are lines I will not cross, even for the purpose of witnessing! (As I'm sure you've experienced as well!)Its an ongoing struggle to find a balance, and stay close to the Lord so that I will be able to discern my own spiritual state, and know what I'm able to handle, and what would be "wrong" for me.

As far as my own entertainment goes, I know I always need to step back and reevaluate. There's just so much stuff that creeps in without my meaning it too. Even romantic chick flicks that are "perfectly" clean in the sensuality department, can, if allowed to take over, become a major emotional distraction. They can lead to discontentment etc.. (which is something I'm thinking about as I write my next post!)

Thanks again for sharing, I'm so glad it was encouraging to you!

~Lauren

Lauren said...

Sarah,

Thanks for the comment! And your encouragement, it is encouraging to me to read peoples thoughts!

Of course you can link to these articles (or anything else), I would be honored!

Your sister in Christ,
Lauren

Related Posts with Thumbnails