Saturday, 5 August 2017

Do you think Modesty is Beautiful?

I originally wrote this post last year for my old church, The Point Community Church. I am now sharing this to hopefully and prayerfully encourage you.

Modesty. A topic where the finger gets pointed but responsibility isn’t owned. A topic which society pushes to the sidelines. A word that the Bible pictures as beautiful, but that evokes ‘uglinesstoday.  As society becomes more sexualised, ‘modest’ clothing becomes more associated with ‘boring' and ‘old-fashioned’. 

Growing up, I had a very limited understanding of what modesty meant and looked like in day-to-day life. I did not learn the value of my body and the power of my clothing. I often walked out of the house without a care about what I was wearing.  I was far more focused on who I could impress that day. I became very obsessed with my self-image and did not treat my body with any respect.  I had little understanding of how precious my body is.

Now in my mid-twenties, I am seeking to understand how modesty fits into my life.  Part of my journey has been to study God’s Word and various Christian authors views on the topic. I have been challenged to figure out where I stand.  I have discovered that being modest in today’s ‘dress to impress’ society requires wisdom AND the fear of God over fear of man.

Modesty stems from the heart. How we treat our bodies including how we choose our clothing reveals what is going on inside our hearts. What goes through your mind as you look at your wardrobe in the morning? 

I often struggle with an inner battle when I dress for outings.  Too often I am focussed on wanting to look beautiful and to be accepted.  Earlier this week I tried on a dress I thought was rather cute.  I had to fight the temptation to keep the dress because in my heart I knew it would not be a wise choice to wear it.  It was not an easy fight.

I am far from perfect in this area of my life, but what I am realising is:

Modesty is not boring.

Modesty is not old-fashioned.

Modesty is not ugly.

Modesty is beautiful.

Here is what the Bible has to say:

Do not let your adorning be external- the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in Gods sight is very precious.1 Peter 3:3-5 (ESV)

This is a well-known verse among many Christians with the reminder that beauty really is in the heart of people. What is that draws you to your friends? Is it the clothes they wear, or how beautiful you think they are on the outside? Or is it what flows out from their hearts?

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.1 Timothy 2:9 (ESV)

In this verse, Paul is not suggesting we should not style our hair or never wear jewellery, or that we should wear sacks to cover ourselves up. Paul is suggesting we shift from focusing so much on our outward selves, and instead look at what is going on in our hearts and character.

Modesty is beautiful. In True Beauty, authors Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre describe modesty as ‘a reverence for God and respect for others in our dress.A modest woman is a beautiful woman as she values her body created by God, and adopts an attitude that seeks to serve and love Christ in her dress.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares her thoughts on modesty in her book Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free:

‘The outward appearance of the Christian woman is to reflect a heart that is simple, pure, and well-ordered; her clothing and hairstyles should not be distracting or draw attention to herself by being extravagant, extreme or indecent. In this way, she reflects the truth condition of her heart and her relationship with the Lord, and she makes the Gospel attractive to the world.(Page 81)

I would like to encourage and challenge you to think about where God sits in your life as you think about what you wear.   One place to start is to ask yourself some questions:

  • ·         Am I honouring to God by wearing this?
  • ·         What does this outfit reveal about my heart?
  • ·         Am I wanting to impress someone, or do I desire to imitate God?
Society believes (and some Christians believe) there is no place for modesty today. Will you prayerfully consider what you put on inside and outside of your body?   Will you seek God on how you can see modesty is beautiful?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Taste and See the Lord is good... for the single woman?

Do you think God is good in your singleness? Do you believe in God’s Sovereignty in your singleness?

God is good. All the time. This was a saying at my hometown church. The pastor would begin by saying, ‘God is good.’ And the congregation would respond with, ‘All the time, God is good.’ For me, this was a helpful reminder on an important Biblical truth: God is good.

Do I always believe those words? As I navigate life as a young single woman who desires marriage but feels it’s so far from reach, do I always believe God is good?

I don’t. And I can only guess I am not alone.

One of my favourite people in the Bible is King David. David consistently draws me into his words with his raw honesty in the Psalms, his journey to genuine repentance, and his humble praises of God the midst of constant suffering.

Recently I have been reading Psalm 34 and it has challenged me to question, ‘do I really think God is good in my singleness?’ I have watched friends get married and it is a joyous occasion. I have watched friends glow with pregnancy and it is a very exciting time. But both of these things have been deep desires of mine since I was much younger, so sometimes I walk away feeling the sting of hurt and I want to question God: where is Your goodness?

Quite simply, His goodness is everywhere. In verse 34, David writes, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!’ (ESV)

This is an interesting yet seemingly mismatched combination of senses but there is a method to his writing. David urges his readers to experience with their senses the goodness of God. David is giving an example that we, as children of God, have the ability to experience a more personal and intimate way of knowing God’s goodness.

God is good, and He is good in singleness.

There are (at least) two reasons I can say this confidently today:
  • Singleness does not define me. Singleness may be temporary or may be for the rest of my life. Ultimately my identity comes from God. I may be single now, but there is more to me than whether I am married or not. I am a daughter, a friend, and I have many interests, dreams and goals. I am also a child of God and even in my singleness, am being used for God’s glory. This goes for you too.
  • Every day there are blessings that come from God. When there is an aspect of my life that I struggle to see the good in (e.g. my singleness) I can look in other areas and find the goodness of God. Sometimes it is as simple as seeing the sun rise. When I am having a bad day or I am struggling to see God’s goodness in my circumstances I often cling to a passage in Lamentations 3 that talks about God’s mercies being new everyday (verses 22 and 23).

David is one example of struggling with circumstances but he chooses to believe in God’s goodness. This is where I am challenged to embrace my singleness and choose to see God’s goodness in my life.

The next time you hear someone say, ‘God is good’, will you be able to confidently respond with ‘all the time, God is good?’ I pray we will. Singleness isn’t easy, but God remains faithful and true and we can hold fast to the truth He is good. All the time.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Finding Comfort through Change

‘But I don’t want to,’ I say gritting my teeth and fighting back the urge to stamp my foot. The news has hit and my heart is sinking. Change is on the horizon.


I am having an argument with God.


I know I am fighting a losing battle. Experience has taught me I never win an argument with God. I don’t want to back down. Somehow, admitting I am wrong is a sign of failure or defeat.

This is the conversation between God and me when significant change is on the horizon. I begin to feel fear and panic deep inside of me. I feel my stomach dropping and my heart trying to leap out of my body. I fear losing control and watching life happen without being able to do anything about it. When I know there is significant change is coming, I want to fight God. I know I could see change as an opportunity to be joyful. But still I fight.

We entered a new year a couple months back. My Facebook feed was filled with mixed responses. Some were full of excitement to see what the year ahead had in store, others were keen to see the end of a crappy year. And then there were the ones whose responses were full of uncertainty, doubt and anxiety.

A new year to me is almost always a guarantee for change. That thought fills me with dread. Changes make me feel like my world is crumbling around me.

The issue is not with whether I like change or not (and let’s be honest – lots of us don’t like change. We’re not alone).

The issue is with how I deal with it.

My temperament tends towards: bottling up my emotions until they unexpectedly burst, depression and anxiety symptoms, stress and catastrophic thinking. I struggle to make decisions as everything becomes fuzzy in my mind. I fear (or perhaps know deep down) I am not in control. It is like there is a warning button that is turned on in my brain when change is on the horizon.

However, not all change is bad. Change is becoming a reminder to me that I have a sovereign God. When my family went through some drastic changes a couple of years ago, one of my pastors consistently reminded me ‘God is sovereign’. I have clung to that truth ever since. I have found comfort knowing God is bigger than any change in life.

As much as we battle for control in our lives, and as much as we think we know better than God, the Bible offers a completely different perspective. Rather than stamping our feet and pouting because our ways do not line with His (guilty!), turning towards God and His truth provides comfort and peace.

For several years I have dreaded even thinking about moving outside of my comfort zone. I thrive off routine, and predictability. Choosing to live life my own way has never ended well so I think I have actually feared change in case I end up back where I was. I now choose a verse (Lamentations 3:21-23) to meditate on each day and place my trust in God.

The Bible has many other verses you can choose from as your own. Print them out and hang them on a wall or carry them in your wallet to remind you what the verse says. Here are just a couple:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?’ Numbers 23:19-20 (ESV).

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.’ Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8 (ESV).

Not all change is scary. However, it is hard when friends move away or when tragedy strikes family. Change also gives us opportunity. An opportunity to draw close to God. An opportunity to place our trust in the One who created us. When life begins to feel like it is falling apart remember:

God is the one and only constant in life.

What change are you facing this year? How can you approach it in a godly manner? 

Monday, 14 March 2016

{Guest Post} From Head to Heart

I have been blessed with several opportunities to guest post on other blogs. Watch out for them over the coming months. The first one to be published can be found on To Share, Care and Love. I had the pleasure of 'meeting' Hannah last year when she began her 'What Does Grace Mean to Me?' series.

Hannah is about to get married to her husband which is very exciting. So here is an excerpt of my post: 

Transforming the head knowledge- Do you believe in God’s strength?

Christian’s typically have the head knowledge of the gospel. They know in their heads that God loves them. They know in their heads they are forgiven. They know these general aspects. But when it comes to truly believing in their hearts, there is often a real lack of belief. 

I am guilty of this. I have recently been reading through Beth Moore’s book, Breaking Free. Beth Moore so aptly and boldly speaks out about unbelief. How often do you doubt God’s love for yourself? How often do you feel unworthy to approach God? 

While I feel incredibly blessed to have grown up in a Christian environment, I also feel it has made me run the risk of becoming complacent with Gospel truth.  There are plenty of verses I ‘know’ in my head but have a lack of true understanding or acceptance in my heart. 

Read More

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Are you in awe?

Recently at church, a discussion question was posed to us:

Has there ever been a time you have felt small?

In a heartbeat I could confidently answer that question with an all the time. The question related to our sermon on Psalm 8. Usually when I feel small, it is in quite a negative way (I think I am not worth anyone’s time; I think I am not worthy at all). But, over Christmas while on holidays I felt really small. This time in a very different way. I felt small as I acknowledged the greatness of our God. I felt small as I was in awe of how majestic our God is.

The holiday was a 3 week camping trip around the South of Australia. I can think of plenty of words to describe the trip: fun, incredible, tiring, busy, amazing.

The trip took us from our hometown of Port Macquarie to the country’s capital of Canberra, to the underworld of Tasmania, to the rocky road of Victoria. Not to mention all the towns in between!

Apart from Canberra, these were places I had never visited before so I was quite keen to explore another part of the country.

In the midst of the hours on the road, setting up and packing up camp, and figuring out a Christmas dinner, we had the opportunity to site see. Each new site I came face-to-face with, I breathed a, ‘wow, God’.  I was in awe.

Man has done a fantastic job with the eery preservation of Port Arthur Historical Site. There are stories upon stories hidden in the 30 buildings. Port Arthur was once a convict site in the 1800's. It felt strange to walk upon the land that thousands of men convicts once walked on. Even boys as young as seven had been sent to Port Arthur for pitiful crimes. There was an air of fascination walking around the site, acquiring the information from each building and who would have lived there. 

Lighthouses are an interesting and clever invention from man. Table Cape Lighthouse, in Wynyard, was built in 1888. It was one thing, perhaps slightly claustrophobic,  to walk up the steps in a tiny, swirly stairwell. But it was another thing to breathe in the fresh air once at the top and look over at the magnificent views of the ocean. 

But though man has done well, God has done greater. Here is why I was in awe:

I was in awe standing at the top of Mount Wellington above the clouds and fogs.

At first it was slightly disappointing to reach the top of the mountain and not be met with the glorious view of Hobart beneath us. But even the clouds are a testament to God's greatness. To stand at the top of the mountain, and be above the clouds in the sky, and above the fog, was enough to be in awe of God's creative works in our weather. 
I was in awe when met with the various rock formations along the Great Ocean Road.

These rocks are so conveniently placed on the coast of Victoria to be dubbed the name 'Twelve Apostles'. Sadly, only nine remain visible to tourists. These rocks are huge! They alone have reason for one to feel small. I was mesmerised by the waves crashing against these great, big rocks. The strength of the rocks immense and frightening as no wave can bring them down in a single sweep. God is awesome.

'The Grotto' was an interesting rock to visit. This rock reminds me of doughnuts, as it stands to be not quite a cave. While the rock itself is breathtaking, peeking through the hole to see the glistening, bright blue waters was a beautiful site to take in. God is amazing.

In all the lighthouse-climbing and rock-viewing, I adored being around the wildlife. It was not as exciting waking up one morning to find a creature had eaten through a packet of breadrolls and sea salt chips. But it was exciting to watch, after that, the Potoroo's (Wallaby-like marsupials) visiting our campsite. And Koala's sleeping in the trees above our tents. (Can you spot the Mum and Baby below?)

No man can ever match God’s majesty.

Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.’ Psalm 8:1 (ESV)

Boy did I ever feel small reflecting on the greatness of God.

This is not something I felt discouraged by. Yes, I am insignificant in this world. But God is majestic. God is greatness, wonder and power. This is a truth to treasure and I will treasure the opportunity I had to see some of His greatness face-to-face.

I struggle with low self-esteem and believing in my insignificance for worse. This year I am challenging myself, and you, to turn it around and be in awe of God’s majesty instead. Through God’s power, we can be used for His glory and greatness. By His grace, we are His children. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

What is your plan for when Christmas is hard?

Christmas is meant to be a happy, exciting and fun time.

Except that is not always the case. I think almost everyone can understand what a tough, sad and stressful Christmas is like.

They can come in different forms which makes it hard to look forward to Christmas.

·      Maybe you are still single after a number of years or have found yourself single after a break-up. Maybe you have experienced the death of a close person throughout the year. Maybe you have moved away from your community. Maybe tensions are high in your family.

  • ·         A family member or loved one has passed.
  • ·         Arguing and tension is high in the family.
  • ·         It’s the first Christmas away from family.
  • ·         You find yourself still single.

Whatever the circumstance, if you think it is going to be tough, I would suggest having a plan. It is easy to become caught up in the emotions of what has happened (or is happening). It is healthy to let yourself feel and be upset, but the day can still be enjoyed.
Here are some of my thoughts to encourage myself, and others, not to lose focus this Christmas.

  • ·         Cook a favourite dish in honour of a loved one or choose a special Christmas ornament. One year I bought angels for each of my family members to place on the tree in memory of our mum.
  • ·         Create your own Christmas traditions. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or homeless shelter, or visit people in hospital. Turn some negative and upsetting energy on being alone and/or single into focusing on others in need.
  • ·         Buy yourself a craft project to start on Christmas day, splurge on a movie you have been wanting to see, take a road trip to somewhere new.
  • ·         If you have friends in town over Christmas, see what they are doing. Even if plans cannot be made for the actual day, see if it is possible to do a dinner between friends on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. In my home church there are a few people who open up their homes over Christmas to those who do not have family nearby. Maybe there is someone near you who does that. Or, why not be the one to open up your place to others?
  • ·         Find some activities you can use as an out when the stress is high. Being in the middle of stress, arguments and tension is never any fun. Prepare some outlets.

Christmas always has the potential to be stressful and painful, but there is always a chance and a choice to turn that around. You can choose to wallow or choose to find the joy in the midst of the pain. The day is not even about us. The day is not even about our families. The day is about Jesus and the good news of the gospel. 

What are you doing to ease the pain this Christmas?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Do you have hope when Christmas changes?

The Christmas season is here. I have a few friends who have been counting down since July. Now we are faced with the reality that Christmas is 2 and a half weeks away. Often there are multitudes of emotions attached to that reality.

For some, there is a tinge of dread at the first sight of decorations appearing in the shops. For others, there is excitement and some people have been planning and buying presents throughout the year. The Christmas season is a busy time, sometimes even stressful. Even though it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and theoretically should be full of joy, there can still be an immense amount of pain associated with it for some people.

Christmas day is rarely a traditional happy-family day for everyone. I know my Christmas’ growing up never replicated a Disney Christmas. In fact, Christmas was very similar year-to-year until the year my mum died.

The year mum died was also the year I had moved out of home. Christmas had changed. Not only was my family having to face one less person around, I was also beginning to face the dilemma of whether to travel back home and spend Christmas with my family, or stay where I was and spend it with my then-boyfriend’s family. The decision was not a hard one because Christmas with my family was very important to me, especially since my younger sisters were still quite young when our mother had died. I, unintentionally, tried to take on the mother role over Christmas and ensure there were still plenty of presents under the tree for my younger siblings. I wanted to try to keep Christmas as ‘normal’ as possible. The true Christmas spirit was not really a priority for me—instead it became about my family, trying to please them, and in doing so believing that I could fix their pain.

Since moving back to my home-town, Christmastime has changed yet again. I have two immediate families I get to spend the day with. However, that is not because I have married and now have my husband’s family to consider. Instead, I have adopted another family. Even though Christmas still does bring some mixed emotions, I know I am actually in a pretty blessed position as a young, single woman. I have twice the family to be around in an otherwise hard and painful time. Many singles, by the time they are my age, are living by themselves or with friends, and probably far from any immediate family.

While Christmas this year is slightly different and I am fighting the ache of still being single and childless, there are a number of blessings I remind myself of:

  • ·        I do not have the fear of facing holidays alone.
  • ·        I do not have to face setting a table for one, and the conundrums of planning a meal for one.
  • ·        I do not have to question if it is worth putting up a Christmas tree or whether I should buy a present for myself.
  • ·        I also do not have to worry about being quizzed by relatives on why I am still single.
  • ·        Most of all, I have family surrounding me.

These blessings are only minute compared to the real truth behind Christmas. The real truth that easily gets buried among the focus on family, let alone the present buying, meal planning, travelling, end-of-year parties and school presentations. This truth remains good news no matter what has happened throughout the year. It is a truth I am challenging myself to remember and hold onto as I approach another different Christmas.

The good news the angel brought to the shepherds 2000 years ago on that first Christmas:

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ Luke 2:10-11. (ESV)

How are you facing a different Christmas?

Do you want to know more about this ‘good news’? Drop me a line and we can chat.