does it glorify God?

This is a question and answer from a reader to Leslie Ludy regarding the areas of books, music, and movies in the life of a set-apart young person.  Her response and suggested prayers to the Lord and questions to ask ourself personally were most insightful (as was the information in a previous post “Laying Down Idols” if you have not had a chance to read it). 

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Question:

“I’m reading Set-Apart Femininity and God has challenged me to do some serious housecleaning and get rid of things that hinder me denying self and letting the Lord increase in my life. As a big fan of romance, this has meant letting go of certain movies, certain romance novels, and many music artists. But do you think I should absolutely never read a book, listen to music or look a movie that is not Christian? I also love to sing a variety of music from gospel to r&b, which is my favorite. I want to be pleasing to the Lord and give him the rightful place as Lord of my life, and I’m not sure how much of this I should allow and how much I should not allow.  I would love to hear your take on this.”

 

Answer:

When it comes to offering our bodies as living sacrifices to Christ, I don’t believe there is any such thing as being too extreme.  Just as Christ laid down everything for us, we are called to lay down everything for Him.  As Amy Carmichael said, “Ours should not be the love that asks, ‘how little?’ but ‘how much?’; the love that pours out its all and revels in the joy of having anything to pour on the feet of its Beloved.”

 

I believe that the area of pop-culture media (movies, T.V., magazines, books, music) is a tremendous blind spot for most Christians today.  We allow shocking amounts of ungodly attitudes and influences into our daily lives under the banner of artistic expression and “harmless entertainment.”  And as I said in my book, these things have even become idols for many of us.  God has done a tremendous work in this area of my own life, convicting me of allowing compromise into my soul through media channels, and walking me through a process of purging everything that dishonors Him and distracts me from Him.  I believe this is something that every young woman who truly desires to be set-apart for Christ must seriously evaluate before God, being wiling to go to whatever “extreme” is necessary to be completely separate from the world in heart, mind, and body.

 

That being said, I also believe that there is a danger in making broad-sweeping rules for our lives as an effort to live righteously in our own strength.  Rather than relying on self-made rules (such as never watching another movie or listening to another secular song) to protect your intimate relationship with Christ, it’s far better to rely on His Spirit – letting Him gently guide you, convict you, and direct you in these decisions.  When you are attempting to decide how much or little of these things to participate in, here are some questions to prayerfully take before your King, allowing His Spirit to search your heart and motives:

 

Will this activity (movie, book, or song) truly bring glory to the name of Christ?

Does it promote (even subtly) any kind of ungodly attitude?

Does it create any kind of temptation to my flesh (i.e. music that causes me to sound or behave sensually, movies that create unhealthy romantic fantasies in my mind, etc.)

Does it draw me away from Christ, or closer to Him?

 

If you answer these questions honestly and build your choices accordingly, you will make Christ-honoring decisions in this area of your life.  And if you are going to err, err on the side of caution.  If you are ever unsure about the effect that something will have on your spiritual life, it’s best to avoid it – even though the decision might seem ridiculous to others.  Though we must guard against self-made righteousness, we must also guard against allowing compromise and mediocrity into our lives through channels such as movies, books and music.  In our media-saturated culture, it’s all too easy for this to become an avenue for selfishness and ungodliness to creep into our lives and hearts. 

 

You can be assured that no sacrifice you make for His sake will be wasted – and even if you must give up things that currently bring you delight, such as your music, you will soon discover that unhindered intimacy with Him brings an even greater pleasure into your life than those things ever could.  As the Psalmist said, “In His presence is fullness of joy!”  

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the deeper purpose

 The following is one of the best articles I have taken the time to read.  It helps me understand why sometimes God does not give us the answers we are seeking as readily as we might desire…it’s because He often has a bigger and more important purpose than just giving us the answer. 

(Taken from Leslie Ludy’s Set Apart Girl Online Magazine)

My Bangladesh Adventure

by Melody Mason

 

 Sometimes it only takes a casual conversation to profoundly impact the course of your life. I had one such conversation last summer.  I was at a weekend ministry retreat, and over lunch one of my friends happened to mention that he was getting ready to leave with a mission team for Bangladesh in just three weeks. And then came the unexpected question. “We need another nurse and health educator on our team.  Would you like to come?” 

I was taken aback by the idea.  Sure, I loved adventure, and I didn’t mind the idea of having another country to add to my collection of “missionary trophies,” but of all places! I had barely ever thought about Bangladesh, let alone ever dreamed of going there.  For a while, I’d had my sights set on doing mission work in Peru.  Bangladesh didn’t really fit with my plans.  And besides, three weeks wasn’t much time to get my visa, and money for a ticket for this last-minute unexpected venture half-way around the world.  Despite my reservations, however, I wanted to be open to God’s plan for my life.  “Well,” I finally replied to my friend, “I guess I’d have to think about that.”  “We don’t have much time,” my friend urged, “So if you want to come, you need to move fast!  We apply for the last batch of visa’s this week.  Go home and pray about it, and let me know, ok?” he encouraged.

           

I agreed.

 

So home I went….and at home I prayed.  “Lord, I’ve been dreaming about going to Peru.  But is Bangladesh where you are calling me?  This isn’t the South American mission adventure I had in mind….but I’m willing if you want me to go.  Please show me.  I don’t want to go unless I can know without a shadow of a doubt, this is your call!!”

 

But God seemed silent on the topic.  I reluctantly went about my activities, and continued to pray.  The next day, I prayed again…more intensely, pleading for direction.  Still no clear direction.  Trying to motivate some Holy Spirit inspiration, I re-read the passage in Mark 16, “Go ye into all the world…”  But that didn’t seem enough.  Then I looked at the verse in Isaiah 6:8,“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”  A longing ache filled my soul as I whispered.  “I will…I’ll go.” Tears filled my eyes.  Yet, God still seemed silent.

 

I was fast running out of time and things were growing more and more improbable by the day.  Peru didn’t seem to be working out, and if this trip to Bangladesh was to happen, it would only be a miracle now.

 

Finally on the third day, seeking for more inspiration and clarity of purpose, I tuned my iPod to the 4th lesson of the Set-Apart Discipleship series that Eric Ludy had taught a group of us about 18 months before.  The whole series had been a huge inspiration and really impacted my life. But I remembered this particular lesson titled “Opposition” as Eric’s theme had centered around the age-old battle of flesh versus Spirit, being led by human compassion versus the Spirit of God, and operating through human strength versus God’s power.  I was definitely up against enemy opposition, but I wasn’t sure where I should be drawing my battle lines and where I should be pressing forward.  So with Bible in hand, a notebook nearby, and a seeking heart, I listened once again.

 

About half-way into the message, I began to get goose bumps as conviction gripped my heart. “Ouch God….this hurts!”  Despite the tears in my eyes, Eric’s voice on the iPod continued on, not stopping to take heed to the impact his words were creating in my soul.

 

Human compassion is a virtue in the Christian community….but this is not the kind of compassion God is looking for.  Righteousness produced by the flesh is, like Paul said, only a pile of dirty rags…or a pile of dung. It’s worthless in God’s eyes!

 

Eric continued…

 

God’s definition of compassion needs to become our definition of compassion.  He wants to give us His bleeding heart and His breaking heart for the lost.  But we need to be governed and harnessed by His spirit to go do that task.  Because you know how big that task is??  It’s bigger than us….It is sooo big and sooo vast.  You could have a thousand things on your plate that could bleed your heart dry, and unless you know what God wants you to be doing, you will be wasting your time.  You will not be making an eternal difference!

 

I wrote notes furiously as the truth penetrated my heart.  And still Eric continued.

 

You see, the point of this life is not just about human compassion; it’s about being led and directed by the Spirit of God to do exactly what He calls you to do.  If He calls you to do something, there will be eternal consequences as a result…..because it was born out of the spirit of God.  But if it’s born out of your own spirit of compassion, it’s gonna fall empty.

 

I hit “pause.”  Tears now rolled freely down my cheeks as I heard God’s still small voice speaking to my heart.

 

“Mel…this missionary life you claim to live…who is this life really about anyway? Is it about Me, or about you??  Do you really long to serve Me? Do you really long to know Me?  Or are you just after another adventure, another accomplishment, another “missionary trophy” you can pridefully put on your shelf?”

 

“God…” I answered shamefully, “It’s probably just about me…while professing to serve You, I’m afraid I’ve still been largely serving myself.  My motives are so tainted with self, and I’m so accustomed to doing ‘good things’ I don’t even think I know how to tell the difference in my heart whether it’s for me or You…but I want it to only be about You!  Can You forgive me??  Can You change my heart?  Please God….I’m willing.  Please show me Your bleeding heart…”

 

I hit “play” again and listened somberly as Eric slowly drew his message to a close.  And as if what he’d already shared wasn’t enough, he threw one final dart at my soul, as though God had orchestrated it, to nail home the conviction of truth. 

 

Life is very simple.  You wake up each day, and you have one agenda!  Your purpose is not to like…save the lost in Bangladesh…

 

My eyes widened in surprise.  But Eric’s voice calmly continued…

 

Your purpose is to ABIDE!  Your purpose is to know your God intimately. When you do, your unique role in this great drama on planet earth will begin to unfold to you.  When you make your focus Him, not just what you should be doing…but when you make your focus Him, you say, “God I am yours! I am here to know you!”  And as you continue to focus on Him, all these things …a career, a spouse, a ministry, a message, all these things will come into focus.  But they need to be born out of the abiding life of Jesus Christ.

 

I turned off my iPod and put the headphones down.  I’d been praying for direction about going to Bangladesh, and instead was stirred with the reality of the shallowness of my own compassion and self-effort.  In fact, it was kinda ironic, but Eric had in essence just told me that my purpose was not to go save the lost of Bangladesh…my purpose was in reality, to learn to abide, and to be consumed with the compassion of Christ.

 

“Well God, does this mean I shouldn’t go to Bangladesh?” I faltered.  “I thought I was ready to serve you, but now I realize how far from being ready I am.” 

 

But then God’s voice spoke to my soul again…this time strong and firm.

 

“Melody, it is my purpose for you to go to Bangladesh.  But I want you to know that it’s not because of your talents, your interest, your compassion, your skills, or your planning that you are going to go there!  It has to be ALL about me!!  Just like I helped Gideon win a battle with only 300 men, I can help you get to Bangladesh with only a few days to get ready. But I don’t want you going with your human compassion to get any more missionary trophies.  I want you to go there to see my bleeding heart, to learn more about loving through me, about abiding in me…about living my compassion.”

 

“Yes Lord,” I whispered meekly.  Peace flooded my soul as I realized the purpose of His time of silence.  And then, a new kind of goose bumps stirred my heart as I wondered what God had in store for this trip.  Somehow, I had the feeling that this last minute adventure would be one of the most impacting experiences of my entire life.  (And I was right!)

 

 So you see, going to Bangladesh had not been my plan, but all along, it had been His.  And with His blessing, despite the obstacles…I was able to go!  How exciting it was to embark upon this adventure with Him, not relying on my own weak human compassion, but on His unfailing mercy, strength and love.

laying down idols – leslie ludy

Leslie Ludy has written a new book, “Set Apart Femininity”.  Click to read an adapted chapter excerpt.  I think you’ll find it both challenging and inspiring!

 

Personal Note regarding the following quote from this article:

“As I allowed God’s Word to speak to my heart, I realized that asking that question would not lead to the stuffy, legalistic, no-fun version of Christianity I was so turned-off by.”

This sentence troubled me.  

While having a Pharisaichal spirit is definitely not part of Jesus’ definition of a set apart life, what appears to some to be “stuffy, legalistic, and a n0-fun version of Christianity”,  might possibly be simply living out personal convictions that make others uncomfortable. 

I agree some people have a no-fun attitude towards living for Christ because they are doing what they are doing because they feel they have to, rather than doing it for the right reasons and thus experiencing joy in a life poured out to Christ.  I believe this is what turns people off.  I believe that, coupled with living out personal convictions or decisions made to live, dress, and behave in certain ways that greatly conflict with the surrounding culture, our lives should be spilling over with joy because we are in a love relationship with our King! 

God’s ways (be they the kind of conversations we engage in, the dress code we abide by, the places we choose to go, the biblical moral laws we live by) are intended for our highest good and pleasure.  What a reason to rejoice!