Monday, April 18, 2016

Swimsuits, Sports Illustrated, and the Safest Place

When God speaks, oftentimes His voice will call for an act of courage on our part.
~Charles Stanley

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.
~ Billy Graham

My husband and I were nearing the end of a Wal-Mart shopping "adventure" :-) with our almost-two-year-old and three-year-old. The end was in sight, and the checkout line awaited our happy souls, glad to be preparing for our "final descent" and entrance back into the sunlight. 

When I saw it. Staring at me from the end of the checkout line. The notorious Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and as my husband with his quirky humor aptly described it -"There was a whole lot of swim, but not very much suit." 

I'm used to seeing tabloids with voluptuous figures emblazoned across the front gracing the checkout lines of our "liberated" society, but this one was over the top - and something that children should not be exposed to. My first reaction was to hurriedly place a seemingly less "toxic" magazine across the front of the Swimsuit issue, but then I thought twice about it. 

I am not by nature a bold person. But there are times when the "fire enters my bones," so to speak, and I feel that the Holy Spirit is urging me not to remain silent. As a customer of Wal-Mart, I should be able to express an opinion or voice a concern - as a follower of Jesus Christ, I should be willing to step out of my comfort zone and speak the truth in a loving fashion, even if it is not welcomed or appreciated, even if it is ignored or if I am laughed at -  and so I did. 

Taking the whole stack up to the cashier, I asked him respectfully if this was something that he would want his children to see, explaining that these types of magazines are usually covered or placed in a separate "non-child-friendly" aisle. Surprisingly, he seemed to agree, or at least acquiesce, assuring me that he would voice my concern. My husband took a step further, expressing our concern to one of the managers of the store, who also seemed to agree that the magazines should be covered or kept out of the view of children. 

I honestly doubted that anything would come of it. I would just have to keep covering up the offending Sports Illustrated issues with Good Housekeeping magazines whenever I exited Wal-Mart. 

But the next time we shopped there, they were gone - the management must have taken our concern to heart and covered them or placed them in a less conspicuous place, at least. 

It was worth it to "speak up; " we did it kindly  and we did it graciously, and the Lord touched the hearts of the management. 

And this experience reiterated to me the importance of speaking the truth in love, of living out our faith in Christ through our daily actions and interactions with unbelievers, and with slowing down our pace enough to be concerned about the direction that the world is going--because it will surely impact the future of our children. 

Because as Christians we should care - and no, we should not be worried, not be consumed, not be taken up in cultural issues in the sense that we forget that this world is not our home, but we have a responsibility. 

To our children, to our fellow humans, to our God - to preserve truth as much as it depends upon us - to speak when we are given the opportunity, to dam up the floods of ungodliness before their toxic waste overpowers the culture utterly and completely and irrevocably. Do we care enough?

How can we be silent who hold the truth? In the face of evil, how can we remain silent? 

Our pastor is preaching through the book of Esther, and I think of Mordecai's words to his cousin that he recently preached on -

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV)

Esther's response - prayer, fasting, and - ultimately - boldly speaking the truth.

The result was deliverance. Life. 

If we remain utterly silent, will our consciences perish with the culture? Will we remain unscathed? Can we know God in truth if we are ashamed to speak it? Do we even care enough to pray about the issues impacting our culture...?

These are questions that I must ask myself. 

I have heard Christians say or infer that their calling is not to offend, only to connect with others on issues that are edifying. 

But I say this boldly -- truth is edifying -- truth spoken in love and with grace and with a good conscience before God edifies and revives and ultimately brings life instead of the lukewarm waters of death.

You may lose "followers" on your blog. You may lose friends. You may lose popularity.

Do we realize that there are believers in other countries who lose their lives for the sake of truth? 

What is Christ worth to us? Do we love Him even enough to warn those around us? To protect our children, our families, our own souls? 

Are we willing to speak truth? 

And we think that we will have to go out on a limb and risk it all if we really take Christ seriously. And we are afraid. We are afraid of losing our comfort, our friends, our life as we know it. 

It seems unsafe.

And yet, following Jesus Christ is the safest place. The place where the rock meets our feet, the unsinkable sand, the Refuge, and the Retreat of our hearts. 

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25-26 NKJV)

All other ground is sinking sand. All other gain is loss. 

And sometimes we're just too caught up in the cares of this life to care - the vacations, the luxuries, the comforts... until we surrender all -

As He did - the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life -

The Truth sets us free. 

And speaking it in love is life. 

May we find it - and rest for our souls - in His Safe Place, the place of life. 

But we never can prove
the delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we'll walk by His side in the way; 
What He says we will do;
Where He sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.
~ John Henry Sammis

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Monthly Book Giveaway Winner--Mr. Portly Finds His Purpose

And the Winner of the Monthly Book Giveaway (for a paperback copy of Mr. Portly Finds His Purpose ) is. . . 

Vicki G. (:-)) 

(name was randomly drawn from a "hat" (well, a bowl, this time :-)). 

Please e-mail me your address through the BLOGGER CONTACT FORM (found on the right -hand side of the blog) so that I may send this book to you! 

Winner will be given three days to respond before I randomly select another winner.

Thank you all for participating!  

Blessings in Christ,