A Pure Prom?

Jenna Plausky,

Prom Night.

Those two words strike terror into many a Christian parent’s heart.  We all remember what prom nights meant for us (at least for those of us going to prom in the 80s and 90s).  Prom meant:

  • Ridiculously expensive meals.
  • Ridiculously expensive tuxedos and dresses.
  • Gobs of make-up and revealing dresses on young women everywhere.
  • Gawking young men.
  • Dancing too close and too long, and to sexually explicit lyrics.
  • Boys groping girls was common place during my school dances, and that didn’t change at prom.
  • All night parties, and even some overnight “dates” that were guaranteed to involve sex.

So, now you may better understand why I am anti-prom!  My wife and I determined by God’s grace to raise our daughters in more godly ways.  It’s why we chose homeschooling.  Academics had little to do with it.  Purity, God-centeredness and gospel-drivenness compelled our educational choice.  And Prom.  Well, it wasn’t part of the plan.

But Saturday night, I watched my oldest daughter dance for hours with some of her friends at a Prom.  One of the young women in our church organized a Prom for homeschooling families.  I must say I was skeptical.  But in the end, I saw young women dressed beautifully and modestly.  Few of them had gaudy amounts of make-up.  The young men wore trousers and button-up shirts and ties.  Girls danced with their friends who were girls, and some of the boys joined in the fun.  There was no slow-dancing allowed.  Adult chaperons / parents were abundant.  Teens went home with their parents that night.

While I am not naive enough to believe that there was no lust going on in the hearts of those teens, I do know that the conditions to act on that lust or to feed that lust were simply not present.  Not permitted.

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its lusts” (Rom 13:14).

Now, some Christians would call me square.  Too conservative.  Too cautious.  Over-bearing.  Well, you don’t know the half of it!  I’m so weird that I don’t even believe in slow-dancing with my teen daughter.  I do not plan to have a “Dad-Daughter” dance at her wedding.  First because she now has been given to the headship of another man.  He gets the dance for the rest of his life now.  But second because I do not slow dance with any woman other than my wife!  I am not romantic with my teen daughter.  Daddy-daughter dances with elementary-aged kids are one thing, but expecting Dads to act romantic toward their daughters who are young women is, in my thinking, weird.

I’m not called to be romantic with anyone other than my wife.  And the very best way I can teach my daughters what real romance looks like is to give it to their mother lavishly!  They need to see romance only in the context of the covenant of marriage.  That’s where God designed it to be.

“I want you to swear, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 8:4).  

You don’t have to agree with my every whim or perspective here.  But it is worth considering how best we can model and instruct our children in true love and romance.  We must create circumstances, as much as it is in our power to do so, that allow our children to thrive in purity and to starve out that lust beast within.  And above all, we must point them to the Savior who took the punishment from God we earn with our every lustful thought.  It wasn’t just for our physical acts of sex outside marriage that Jesus died.  He died for our sin-sick hearts and minds that far too often rage with lust (Matt 5:27-30).

In the end, it’s not a dance with me or any other man that I want my daughters to most long for.  My prayer, my great desire, is that they would yearn for the eternal love of the Perfect Bridegroom.  His name is Jesus.  And He is more beautiful even than a home school Prom done well.

 

 

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Good Friends are Hard to Come By

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“Good friends are hard to come by.”  

We’ve all heard it.  All said it.  And it’s true.  I can personally count on one hand the men I would consider to be true friends, in every sense of the word, to me.

Good friends might be hard to come by, but they’re worth the hard search and work to find and make.  Good friends are critical to a life well-lived.  God’s Book of Wisdom does not overlook the importance of friendship.  God gives us instruction by example.  Like David and Jonathan.  Ruth and Naomi.  Paul and Barnabas.

But God also gives us some important instruction on friendship by way of Proverbs.  Chapter 27 shines here.

“Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (vv. 5-6).

We often quote the phrase, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” without considering its immediate context.  Too often in the church we use this phrase as warrant to go around rebuking everyone anytime we want.  But the key word is “friend.”  That word assumes a closeness.  A bond.  A mutual commitment to one another.  And the preceding verse makes it plain that true love does not fake friendship by refusing to confront sin or correct error.  True friends are faithful to do hard things to ensure they are growing one another in godliness.  True friends must rebuke one another, but always and only to expose real sin that is preventing further growth in Christ-likeness.

In other words, true friendship is hard.  It hurts sometimes.  But it’s worth it if we want to be wise like our Lord.

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend” (v. 9).

Oh, thank goodness!  Real friendship is not all rebuke and wounding.  Friends also share sweet counsel.  Advice and words that make the heart glad.  In other words, friends are committed to pursue wisdom together.  They look to one another to build up and “wise up.”  It’s hard to imagine having a good friend that you dread talking with on a regular basis because he or she never has a good word for you!

“Do not forsake your friend or your father’s friend” (v. 10).

Friendship means loyalty.  This is why I personally believe one of the critical keys to a life-long marriage of joy is true friendship.  I know no better human friend than my wife.  What a blessing!  Real friends do not leave when things gets thorny or uncomfortable.  They stick with you even after you rebuke them faithfully.  They also remain committed to you even if you are struggling with a sin that needs rebuke.  They’re in it for the long-haul and they’re in it for your good growth in holiness until death ends the friendship.  God even expects friendship loyalty to cross generational lines!

“He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse on him” (v. 14).

Ah, true friends are thoughtful and considerate of one another.  Is your friend not a morning person?  Then don’t start texting her at 6 am.  Friends put the good of the other before their own wishes.  Friends do practical things to bless one another.  I mean, after all, what “blessing” could possibly come from my yelling a prayer at my friend at the crack of dawn?  Friends serve one another in practical, down-to-earth ways that meet real needs.

“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (v. 17).

Here is the essence of friendship.  When iron strikes iron, sparks fly!  But the end result is more usefulness.  A dull blade makes precious little impact.  Sharpening requires removing some material.  Sins must go.  Attitudes that do not reflect Christ and His Word must be ground away.  Life dulls us in so many ways.  We need true friends to pull out the spiritual whetstone and lay it to our hearts.  The very best way I know of to do this is to read, discuss, think on, and memorize the Word of God together.  

But if we continue to desire comfort and “concealed love” in the church, if we continue to run when relationships get hard, then we will never reap the harvest of friendship – true godliness.

“He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit” (v. 18).

God help us seek good friends in the church.  God help us be a good friend to at least a few brothers and sisters in the church.  Lord Jesus, thank You for calling Your disciples Your friends (John 15:12-17).  It is only because of Your loving sacrifice for us that we can have any hope of ever being a true friend to someone.  Make us like You.  May our church’s friendships bring You great glory as we reflect the love, loyalty, and sharpening that comes by Your sanctifying grace.  Amen.       

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Over-Indulgence

GTY_watching_tv_eating_pizza_thg_13719_80509847_16x9_608-2Over-indulgence and America go together like, well, America and apple pie-eating contests!

We do not seem to be able to find proper balance, do we?  I suspect the “all or nothing” mentality is at least partly responsible for what we are currently seeing in the political race for the White House.  We like fast cars, big trucks, and loud-mouthed braggarts.  If an 8 ounce steak is good, a 16 ounce is always better.  One scoop or two?  Is that a real question anymore?

We Americans over-indulge in so many ways and our economy loves it and feeds it.

  • Four hours of video games a day?  Over-indulgence.
  • Seventy hours at the office each week?  Over-indulgence.
  • Fifteen minutes of porn on your lunch break?  Over-indulgence.
  • A few beers every single night to “calm down?”  Over-indulgence.
  • Thousands of dollars on hobbies and vacations?  Over-indulgence.
  • Two hours or more on Facebook each day?  Over-indulgence.
  • Vegging out in front of the TV for the last three hours of every day?  Over-indulgence.

And the list goes on seemingly indefinitely!  We are so out of whack.  In dire need of simplicity.  We’ve forgotten that sometimes less is more, but at other times more is not enough.  The Lord’s wisdom comes crashing into our over-indulged, over-worked, over-stressed world:

Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe them with rags (Proverbs 23:20-21).  

Turns out, all this over-indulgence leaves us empty in the end.  But Jesus gives us the corrective:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Matt 5:6).

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [basic life necessities] will be added to you (Matt 6:33).

Oh Lord, help us over-indulge in You and You only.  Give us a hunger for You that outstrips our appetites for all other people, places, and things.  Forgive us for filling our lives with cotton candy.  Forgive us for being drunk and gluttonous on so many temporal things.  Restore to us the balance we desperately need.  Tip our scales in favor of righteousness, time in Your Word, prayer, service, discipleship and worship.  Amen.  

 

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Dining with the Dead


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The woman of folly is boisterous, simple and knows nothing.  She sits at the doorway of her house on a seat by the high places of the city, calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight: ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here.’  And to him who lacks understanding she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’  But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol (Proverbs 9:13-18).

Early in the Book of God’s Wisdom, which we call Proverbs, we are introduced to Two Ladies.  Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly.  Both ladies call out to passersby from high places (Prov 8:1-2; 9:14-15).  Both ladies cry out to the “simple,” which is the way fools or naive men lacking wisdom are referred to in Proverbs (Prov 8:4-5; 9:16).  Both ladies have a house or home and have prepared a dinner (Prov. 9:1-6; 13-17).

But notice what appears to be a a few significant differences.

  • Lady Wisdom cries out to the simple to urge them to “understand wisdom” (8:5).  Lady Folly cries out to those “who are making their paths straight” and encourages them in their naivety / foolishness (8:15-16).
  • Lady Wisdom speaks “noble things” and “right things” (8:6).  Lady Folly is herself a fool, lacking in wisdom (8:13).  She’s got nothing noble or right to offer!
  • Lady Wisdom prepares a true feast of rich meat and wine (9:2).  Lady Folly offers “stolen water” and “secret bread” (9:17).

I do not pretend to know with 100% accuracy what “stolen water” and “secret bread” really is, but I can make some educated guesses based on the wisdom given in the Book of Proverbs.  Lady Folly is lazy.  She takes what is not hers, unwilling to work for it, then offers it tantalizingly to others!  She appears to offer life-giving water, but in the end it is stolen, its true source is unknown.  Perhaps she drew it from a poisoned well?  Her table cannot be put on full public display because it has shameful bread on it, things that one would not be willing to imbibe openly.

Just how many facets of our culture and society fit under this umbrella of “stolen water” and secret bread?”

Socialism?  Steal from some people to give it to others.  And this is done forcibly by the government!

Pornography?  Steal all dignity from women, degrade them and encourage them to degrade themselves all to allow fools to drink that poison water.  The “bread” of pornography is very secret!  It offers up stolen pleasure, which was never meant to be ours in the first place.

Laziness?  Proverbs has much to say on it!  The desire to pursue or achieve life and pleasure without putting our own hands to the plow.  I saw a documentary sometime last year that chronicled the growing number of young men in America who just want to play video games, smoke dope and enjoy their checks from the government (i.e., stolen money).

But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Beware!  Stolen water and secret bread never deliver on their promises.  Once you step inside Lady Folly’s front door, that door slams and you’re trapped at a table full of haunting skeletons.  

Oh, if we could only hear their screams, voices from hell, before we set foot in that door.  Oh, if God would mercifully tune our ears only to that of Lady Wisdom.  For her house is really the Lord’s house.  And at His right hand are “pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11).

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Michael Wood - Amen brother!

A Wise Guy Eh?

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One of my all-time favorite TV shows is “The Three Stooges.”  Curly, Larry and Moe are still the original and best of the comedic actors specializing in “physical comedy.”

Funny?  Yes!  Hilarious!

Wise?  Uh, no.  They’re called stooges for a reason folks!

When frustrated with one another, Curly or Moe would often utter the now famous line: “Oh, a wise guy eh?”  What followed was usually a bash to the skull with a hammer, a finger to the eye, or a swift kick in the pants!

But all kidding aside, the world and the church desperately need more “wise guys.”  Men of wisdom.  This month I invited the men of our church to join me in reading a Chapter in the Proverbs each day.  31 days of March.  31 Chapters in Proverbs, God’s book of wisdom.  What’s not to love?  So, at least once a week this month I will pull out a nugget from this book and expound on it briefly.  May we all grow wiser by the word and grace of God.

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (Prov 1:10).  

My son – we first note that the Book of Proverbs is written from a Dad to a son (see 1:8; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1, 10, 20; 5:1; 6:20; 7:1).  The church has suffered long in our land from a lack of father-to-son discipleship.  Men have too often abandoned their sons / children, either literally or functionally.  Workaholism and video-gamitis are taking a toll.

What a blessing it was for one of the men in our church to tell me he was reading these chapters with his sons every night this month!  That’s the spirit!  Rise up O men of God!  Have done with lesser things.  Open your Bibles and read and delight and discuss with your sons / children.  The Church is surely an important partner with you in this task.  But you dare not leave it to the Church alone.  There is no surrogate, no substitute for Dad teaching his family the Word of God.  You work so hard, men, to put food on the tables.  I commend you.  Praise God for your work ethic.  But please, please, work just as hard to set before your families each day The Bread of Life.

If sinners entice you – we dare not add to God’s Word, but here we might just add a side-comment that we might as well say, “When sinners entice you.”  And that’s really the sense of the wording here anyway, isn’t it?  Solomon knows the enticement is coming.  He just wants his son to be armed, sober, on alert.

How desperately we need to warn our sons of all the enticements of this world!  Dads, we must push past our comfort zones to talk transparently, boldly, and often with our sons / children concerning sexual temptations, perversions, pornography, relationships / friendships, drugs, music, movies, corruption in business and government, and the list goes on and on.  This world and Satan will never stop their enticements until Jesus makes all things new. Sin so often looks alluring (remember Genesis 3:6).  The Bible even says sin is pleasurable for a season.  We had better be up front about the allurements assaulting us day-by-day.  People, places, things.  They can all become sinful enticements, because our flesh is weak and fallen and set on sin (Rom 8:5-8).

Do not consent – wisdom speaking here!  Do you and your sons know how to fight sin God’s way?  Is your son /child saved?  Is he in Christ?  A lover of Jesus and His Word?  A hungry learner and follower of Jesus?  A son who embraces the critical sanctifying role of the church family in his life?  If not, get busy saturating that boy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as often as humanly possible!  Stop wasting time on lesser things!  His soul is at stake and he will never be able to “not consent” to sin until he is first found in Christ.

Now, if by God’s glorious grace, your son is in Christ, let me return to my original question: Do you and your sons / children know how to fight sin God’s way?  Are you fighting God’s way?  If your answer to either question is “no,” please contact a pastor or elder brother in Christ right away and ask that man to teach you the way of holiness and to walk alongside you in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24).  Soon enough we’ll come to Proverbs 27:17.  Might as well get started now brothers!  

Be a wise guy.  For your family.  For your church.  For your world.  For the glory of God alone.

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Michael Wood - Sharpen us brother!

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