Friday, July 22, 2005

Passionate about Purity

I'm preparing to lead a purity retreat for middle school and high school girls. I am so excited. I hope I can speak passionately about purity, as it's a topic near and dear to my heart. I just hope that I can convey just how important it is to strive for purity, though it is hard. Planning for this retreat has caused me to take some time to think about my own struggle to work toward purity. The Lord calls each of us to have a pure heart, and through His gracious forgiveness, that is long as we rely on Him and call upon Him for forgiveness...and we are to be living sacrifices for Him, we are to strive to keep our bodies pure...we are not to entertain lustful and sinful thoughts, we are to strive to have pure minds. Note I keep using the word strive. There's good reason for that. I feel that purity is too often confused with innocence. We journey toward purity, we try to become more Christ-like, we grow in purity.

The difficulty comes in the fact that the Bible doesn't give us specific guidelines in regards to purity...or not as specific as we would like...we actually are held accountable...I mean, we are to avoid lust and fornication and we are to dress modestly, but the Bible does not say, "Thou shalt not French kiss" or "Thou shalt not kiss" or "Thou shalt not wear skirts above the knee". However, if we have a personal relationship with our Lord, it is not ridiculous to think that we would seek His guidance in these areas and follow His commands. God may not spell out His commands as we would like, but He does not keep His will a secret. He guides us, the real question is not whether God will make His will clear, it's whether we will be humble enough to follow. It is not the job of any person to enforce "moral codes", but as Christians, we must obey the Lord's commands at all times. I realize that sounds like asking for trouble, but grace is not an excuse to pursue our own desires. I heard a sermon of Pastor Harlow's in which he stated that we must be careful not to try to preach our standards as God's law. If we do, we would be suggesting that the Lord erred in issuing His commandments, and who are we to do that?

We must crucify our own desires and allow our love for the Lord to dictate our conduct. I can't say that I'm having an easy time with this...I am often tempted to stray from God. I've found that sometimes, throwing off my temptations, desires and wants is extremely painful for me...and sometimes, I think the reason it hurts me so much is because I don't want to feel like everything's out of my hands...handing the reins sheepishly back over to the Lord is one of the most painful things to do...but it's absolutely necessary...and I've learned that the sooner I hand them over, the less it hurts me, mostly because it prevents me from falling too far down.

Growing in godliness allows us to be closer to our Lord, an amazing feeling. However, it is very easy to develop pride along with that joy. It can be hard to remain humble, but we absolutely must or we will lose our focus and forget that we are still growing in our faith...we might fool ourselves into thinking we're already there!

I'm not quite sure why I felt compelled to write could be the upcoming could be my recent period of self-examination...identifying my weaknesses, shortcomings, and temptations...and all those successes as well...those painful moments when I said, "Oh, God, I need You...I want that...but I need You...Please, give me peace." Those times hurt. Self-control...or rather...obedience can be painful (mostly to your pride ;) )...but the fact that I asked for the Lord to grant me peace and take control shows improvement...I'm pleased to see that I'm growing, but I know all too well that I have a long way to go...I need to do some maturing before I can even dream of being called a "godly woman"...I feel I am more like a "starry-eyed girl", right now, admiring her Lord from afar...*sigh*...Well, I'm working on it...and by God's grace, perhaps one day, I'll be able to be a woman of journey won't be done, but perhaps one day, I'll reach the point where I can be the kind of godly woman a Christian man deserves (even if God hasn't destined me for marriage)...I fear I'm babbling,, I think I should wrap this up...I'm not sure I found the words to do justice to my ponderings, this time...and I'm not sure I strung my thoughts together coherently...So, I guess it couldn't hurt things to resort to quoting a song...

Let It All Out (by Relient K)

Let it all out (get it all out)
Rip it out, remove it
Don't be alarmed when the wound begins to bleed
Cuz we're so scared to find out (what this life's all about)
So scared we're gonna lose it
And knowing all along that's exactly what we need
And today I'll trust you with the confidence of a man who's never known defeat
But tomorrow upon hearing what I did,
I'll stare at you in disbelief
Oh inconsistent me! ...crying out for consistency
And You said,
"I know that this will hurt, but if I don't break your heart, things will just get worse.
If the burden seems too much to bear,remember...
The end will justify the pain it took to get us there."
And I'll let it be known (times I have shown)
Signs of all my weakness
But somewhere in me, there is strength
And You'd promise me, that You believe
In time I will defeat this'cuz somewhere in me there is strength
And today I'll trust you with the confidence of a man who's never known defeat
I'll try my best to just forget that that man isn't me
And You said,
"I know that this will hurt, but if I don't break your heart, things will just get worse.
If the burden seems too much to bear, remember...
The end will justify the pain it took to get us there."
Reach out to me, make my heart brand new
Every beat will be for You...for You...
And you know, and you know
When You touched my heavy heart, you made it light.

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