When scripture comes alive in your life it always drives the point home. When I had children I learned to appreciate the “heart of the father”. As my children grew I learned to appreciate the lessons on discipline, obedience and freedom of choice.
We recently had lessons on the prodigal son. Not only in our emotions as parents but in watching our children react to the situation. We have been blessed with obedient, loving children that have never spoken against us. When their youngest sibling went astray they had some new emotions. “All of your emotional energy is going to him.” “Why would you give him a big dinner when he comes home?” “I’m not going to mow the yard, that’s his job.” They haven’t done anything wrong and yet they feel slighted by the one taking all the energy.
I wanted to say: “But you don’t need my energy – you’re ok”. “I want to throw a party because we are happy that he’s home”. “You should mow the yard for him. It’s his first day home”. These aren’t punishments for being obedient – they are a celebration for his return.
We speak of love and compassion in the church but do we really want the lost to be forgiven? Do we really want drug addicts, criminals, and prodigals coming to church? Are we ready to press in and see them healed?
Luke 15:31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
I received a notice to appear in court yesterday. The letter said “Dress Appropriately”. I laughed out loud and said “what does that mean anymore?” A few decades ago, it would have meant a suit and tie for men and a dress for women. Today it “might” mean no shorts, flip flops, t-shirts. There really isn’t a clear definition of appropriate dress anymore. Jeans used to be taboo but now they are fine as long as they aren’t torn and they are pulled up over the underwear. Wait, is it ok to have it half way down over the underwear??? That is the style according to my sons.
We use terms like ghetto, preppy, Goth, etc. Hairstyles are all over the place. I think I see an example of every cut on any given day and I can’t really say what is in style anymore. When I went to college, many schools had the rule that men’s hair could not touch the shirt collar. Now the rules say “no un-natural hair color”. How about spikes?
Should we discuss what God thinks of tattoos, body piercing, and ear lobe expanders?
I don’t know if any of this matters one bit to God. I doubt that He has a “Dress Appropriately” list. I do know that he cares about how we clothe our insides. In your quiet time today, reflect on what is on your inside and what kind of dress you are wearing today. Smile at the Goth server in the café with tattoos and piercings. They may be on a mission to reach the lost and have a tremendous testimony to share.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
One of my favorite shows in the 70’s was Hill Street Blues (for those of you who don’t know what the 70’s are – it was a decade in the last century that us old people enjoyed). It was a cop show inNew York Cityand the show always started with the Sergeant dismissing the shift with the words “And be careful out there”. He said this because he knew the danger that existed out on the streets.
Connecting with missionaries around the world often makes me feel the same way. I get letters that start like this one yesterday:
Greetings from Nairobi. There have been some disturbing events in Kenyathat perhaps some of you have heard in the news. This morning, attacks on Catholic and AIC churches in Garissa – where **** has a team of 7 missionaries – has left 17 dead and another 50 or so injured. We are glad to confirm, however, that **** missionaries are all safe.
It is dangerous out there. We all know the risks when we leave our turf. But we are called and we want to go. We see the needs and we go without any guarantee that we will return.
Never the less, I shout out to you “be careful out there”. Not because your safety is the first goal but because we love you and want to have you around a long time. You also have a calling on your life that we want to see fulfilled. Remember to use discernment. A friend of mine got a really bad hair cut last week because he went to a barber’s school instead of paying a couple dollars more to go to a real establishment. He didn’t use good discernment and I hope he never goes to a dangerous country. (I threw that in to see if he really reads these!)
Be blessed this week. Be wise. Be careful. Lay your life at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to lead your every step.
1 Kings 3:12
I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart . . .