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We need “More Than Conquerors”!

More Than ConquerYou’re a month or two into the school year, depending on which high school, academy or university you’re attending and you’re already over it. Some of you have senioritis and you’re only sophomores! Ha!

For some of you it’s even worse. You wanted things to be different this year, to keep your grades up, to be more popular, to shed your insecurities, to not give in to peer pressure, to keep your spiritual life strong despite the demands that your studies and all those extracurricular things pile on. Even if you started the battle of getting through a new school year feeling strong, you might be finding yourself growing weary today. This weariness might make you want to: flirt with sexual overtones to get a guys’ attention…even if he’s not even good for you! You might want to skip your devotional in the morning and sleep in, start drama with a girl who’s getting on your nerves, study less and be tempted to cheat on a test, or criticize and complain about all your teachers.

School is tough, I remember, and the list of things you may be tempted to get distracted by goes on forever! But remember this, my warriors of the cross…every day you have the chance to be a witness for God—to do things well and show people how Christians are MORE THAN CONQUERORS: to show them how God promises something better and how we have faith that He’ll deliver!.Of course, Satan is doing his best every day to make your life miserable and to destroy our testimony for Christ. The Bible says in John 10:10 that Satan wakes up every morning aiming to steal your joy and your eternal life.

If you’ve felt overwhelmed lately, you’re not alone! But please my  darlingest of  girls, don’t give up! There are many who will look to your leadership and example. Your school needs you desperately to set the standard high! Your school needs more than conquerors to lead them.

Here are a few practical ways you can fight the enemy and beat off temptation this school year.

  1. Stay plugged in to God’s Word on the daily

If you’re reading the Bible, you’re actually hanging out with Jesus. He calls himself the living Word…which means that the same power He had…you have access to through the word. This is how it can influence our minds for good!  Ask God to give you wisdom, power and mold your will to His as you read.

How can you incorporate God’s Word into your morning routine this school year?

  1. Memorize battle verses

Every temptation begins as a thought, so arm yourself with weapons of truth to combat satan’ lies as those thoughts come into your head!

Remember, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). There is nothing too big in your life that Christ cannot help you overcome, but you need to put on your armor!

  1. Pray with friends

Ask your parents, mature Christian friends, or a wise woman at church to hold you accountable for your areas of temptation and struggle. The more often your bring your struggles before God, and the more people who are fighting along side you…the more power you’ll have to overcome! PS…not everyone is trustworthy, so don’t give all your secrets away to someone who hasn’t proven themselves to you!

That’s all folks, post your prayer request on the Greater Than Rubies facebook page or email me at Amie@greaterthanrubies.org if you need special prayer for any situation. We need more conquerors like you!

 

Why I love tattoos

tattoo

Back a couple weeks, I was hanging out at a skate park in Patterson CA, trying to get to know the kids who were throwing down some pretty aggressive tricks. I was on a secret mission.
We were there to develop relationships with teens who didn’t have the support of a church family—to get their ideas on church and God and see how we might invite them to hang out with us. I had brought a cooler full of sodas and opened it up. When one of the guys would hop off the concrete, I’d offer him a drink. (PS. The only drink they wanted was Dr. Pepper, so forget about the Fanta, folks.) While they were drinking, I’d introduce myself and ask some questions. Inevitably, there would be a time where I’d sense that we could get deeper, more spiritual with the dialogue.
I asked one guy, Edward, about his upbringing in church, since he mentioned he was a Christian.
“Man”, he huffed. “I went to the most judgmental church. I felt like no one ever got to know me. They just looked at my tattoos and piercings and never gave me a chance. The funny thing is”, he continued, “is that some translations of Revelation 19:16 say that Jesus has tattoos on his thighs when he comes back for his people.”

A few things came rushing to my mind all at once. First, even though Edward was talking about another denomination, the same situation could have just as easily happened in an Adventist Church…humans are prone to judgment, and if someone doesn’t look like they fit in, sometimes we don’t welcome them into our fellowship. This is a grave error on our part. Second, I was pretty sure that even if Jesus did have an actual tattoo, it wouldn’t be a good reason to go spend hundreds of dollars putting Sailor Jerry type ladies on my body. I question both the heart’s intent and the content of lots of tattoos. And finally, the holy spirit told me that this wasn’t a time for a Bible study or a time to be critical, it was a time to affirm the deeper desires of this kid’s heart—to love him for the unique ways he had been made and to find common ground.

Here’s a secret about me: I actually LOVE tattoos. I don’t find it hard to appreciate good art, even if it is drawn on someone’s body. Tattooing is an art form in its own right. Have you ever watched an episode of LA Ink? Side note: I met Oliver Peck and Kat Von D at a Christmas party in Dallas. Those guys can put a perfect likeness of a loved one on a shoulder blade. They are skilled!

Some of you (including my mom) are probably freaking out as you read this, thinking that I’m a pretty sorry role model for young people, but don’t worry, I’m not ever going to get a tattoo. I really want my beliefs engraved on my heart and character, not on my skin.
But I do love them! Keep tracking with me for a minute, and it’ll make sense.

In the verse in Revelation that Edward was referring to, the word some translations render “tattoo” or “engraved” is actually the same word for “written”. It’s pretty obvious that Jesus isn’t going to his local rusty needle for fresh ink. That said, Jesus does get something significant written on his thighs—maybe it’s more like getting henna art or a temporary tattoo, but its there!

Here’s why I love this concept and this verse: we can use it to connect people like Edward to the character of God, regardless of the specific word interpretation. See, this part of the Bible is about our radical, warrior Jesus, suiting up to wreak havoc on sin. Coming back in accordance with the covenant, the super-est of super heroes. Destroying the destroyer. Pure motives and pure power. It’s phenomenally inspiring. And by the way, It puts all other body art to shame!
People get tattoos for so many reasons—to project an image, to express a cherished phrase or concept, to honor someone who has passed away, to make something feel permanent in a world with no guarantees. If we can understand this, and understand how God responds to those desires, we’ll be less concerned with judgment and more concerned with filling peoples’ needs.

That’s why I love tattoos. Because they allow me to have conversations about things that are important to people, and when the time is right, to introduce them to the character of God.

If you meet an Edward in your church, don’t let him get away without asking him about his body art. You might find you have a lot more to talk about than you thought!

He Knows My Name

SAN MARINOOn Mothers’ Day evening I was shopping in Ross and came out of the dressing room to the sight and sounds of a woman, distraught, arguing with the customer service personnel.

There were at least 30 other people in the store, standing absolutely still as the woman raged on, cursing and violently throwing everything out of her two carts full of items. Some parents had their hands over their kids’ ears. Some looked terrified as she reached into her purse and pulled out a…receipt (phew) and turned to the store-audience.

“Not ONE of these people has tried to help me!” She yelled. “The service is awful here! My mother is dead and they won’t let me return things I couldn’t use because I had to go to a funeral. AND NO ONE WILL HELP ME CARRY THIS STUFF BACK TO THE CAR!!! (The carts have those long poles on them so people can’t take them outside.)

I heard flip flops breaking the silence, heading up towards to registers. To my surprise, they were my flip flops.

“I can help”, I heard myself say as I gathered up the baskets, pillows and kids’ socks that were all over the floor. “I’m Amie. What’s your name?”

I asked because it popped into my brain that no one had heard her out during the whole transaction…they had just looked at her receipt, saw that she was over the allotted return time and tried to send her away. No one took time to recognize her as a human.

It’s crazy, but the simple act of learning someone’s name does wonders for their sense of feeling respected. In Dale Carnagie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People course, we were taught that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

I think God operates by that principal too! He says in Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  I love that he knows my name! For me, that means that I am significant enough to be known by the creator.

The woman’s name was Marissa, and just by getting to know her name, she felt like I was an ally. A man named Alfonso and I slowly but surely got her to leave the store and helped her avoid being arrested. We packed up her things and I made sure she was safe to drive.

Two things were on my mind as I left the store. The first is practical: before telling someone disappointing news, it helps to know them a little bit—or to at least know their name. It’s to both of your benefits, because then you see each other as people, not as problems.  The second is that there is so much personal security in being connected to a God knows each of us by name. If he knows me personally, I can be more assured that he actually cares about how my life is going—that he hears me when I call and that he has claimed me as his own.

I wish I had gotten a chance to talk more with Marissa about this name-knowing God, but I didn’t. I’m praying that God can use the feeling of respect she got from our interaction to soothe her spirit and give her hope!

Christian Fashion: We Can Do So Much Better Than Just “Modesty” (pt 5) 

christian fashion--what should christian girls wear

Every living person, with the exception of maybe those in nudist colonies, participates in fashion.  Even people who think fashion is totally stupid and hate malls and would rather have a ten year long abdominal cramp  than wake up early to go black Friday shopping–even that person makes decisions about fashion. It may be a default, but it is still a decision!

So what about the Christian? What decisions do Christians make about fashion? Maybe you’ve never thought about it before, in which case, I’m glad you’re here because I believe that faith should influence every area of life. Whatever you eat, whatever you think, whatever you wear—should all somehow tie into your faith.

Now I don’t think this means that every Christian should look wear a white flowing robe with a little cross sewn in somewhere to designate their beliefs. I’ve seen groups that look like that, and they scare me.

So what DO we wear? It seems like Christian guidelines often focus on what not to wear and never help us design a framework with which to make those decisions. So, I’ve come up with some questions that might help you clarify how your fashion might help reflect your faith. Some of these questions tie into modesty and morality, others are just about being responsible with resources.

Here they are in no particular order.

  1. We already talked about modesty so I won’t say much here, but ask yourself: Can I be modestly, appropriately dressed in this item? Is it about glorifying my body parts or about serving God?
  2. Does the clothing contain images or wording that seem to be directly against God’s love, peace and well wishes for every person? Does it glorify ideas contrary to scripture?
  3. Is the clothing part of a current trend that hints at immorality? For example: In the Bible Paul gave specific things to avoid– He said braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire were out of place for a woman of God. He said this because some of the church members were trying to mimic trends that the Roman Imperial households were making popular—elaborate and expensive hair-do’s and ornamentation. Immoral people who had nothing to do with Christianity were influencing fashion choices. (Just like today).

Today we see the same thing—clothes that come from porn culture, hair that comes music scenes, make-up that mimics the smudging of a morning after a hook-up.  They’re popular, and that of itself is not necessarily a bad thing! Its just that some things have only become popular because of the sin that they allude to. These are the things I think a wise Christian is attuned to.

The last question is a doozy, and one that I think Christians should make priority:

4. How do my fashion choices affect people, attitudes, and natural resources?

Here are the top 5 issues I think we can improve our awareness of.

  • Consumption is on the rise

Bringing out a new line of clothing every year encourages young people to buy new clothes that they don’t really need. While some people see this as harmless or as a way to support the economy, but it can also lead to rampant consumerism and waste, where people buy just because they think they need the newest item.

  • The Environment Suffers

The rise of consumption can negatively affect the environment because the materials, transportation and production that are involved in the fashion industry all have an impact. Many synthetic materials come from petroleum products, which results in lots of toxic chemical waste, exhaust—eventually producing climate change and other environmental issues. Even natural materials are grown on land that could be used for food production. Basically, the less we use, the better or environment will be. It’s funny because our generation has done an excellent job of recycling but we just can’t bear to reduce our consumption.

  • Brands affect body image

Virtually all of the models who represent fashion houses are abnormally thin. This focus on extreme thinness in women has been blamed for eating disorders and poor body image among some women whose bodies don’t conform to this idealized image. If I had a daughter, I would want to support clothiers who branded themselves as a wholesome, healthy company that supported my ideas of self-worth.

  • Fashion adds to people problems

Many clothes are made by poorly paid people in developing countries. They get may work unsafe conditions with no insurance or benefits just to earn a few cents a day. This practice, known as sweatshop labor, has been condemned but still exists in some areas.

A problem more visible in the Western world is that clothing seems to highlight or even cause inequality. A large part of the appeal of fashionable clothing is that it’s exclusive. Those who are able to buy the name brands are glamorized and treated as more desirable.  These human issues should be particularly heinous to Christians as we are encouraged to foster a sense of humble oneness that centers around unity in Christ.  It’s hard to feel together when someone seems to be placing themselves in an elite class by wearing expensive high-fashion clothes.

  • Fur and Leather may be cruelty

Clothing items that use real animal fur support the fur industry, which has traditionally been found guilty of inhumane treatment of animals. Fur is acquired either by trapping wild animals and skinning them or by raising animals domestically just for their fur and is used to trim out clothing and accessories. Many of these animals are not desirable for meat, so they are just killed and dumped.

Leather may be a bit different in that it can be the byproduct of the meat industry and so the animal doesn’t go to waste, but there are definitely ethical and moral concerns with both of these products for many Christians. Depending on the source of the leather, how the animals were treated when alive, how they were slaughtered and how long you keep your products, you may be a very responsible leather-wearer. The reality is that most people don’t even look into these issues and are oblivious to the plight of God’s creatures.

These are the main concerns I have about Christian Fashion. I’d love to be a part of changing the dialogue away from a modesty-only approach to a more holistic look at how we choose what to wear.

Which of these issues is most important to you and why? Are there others that I didn’t mention that you are becoming more aware of? Your input is valued!

That’s the close of this series on clothes. (See what I did there?)

Let me know if I missed a facet you wanted to discuss!

 

 

Christian Fashion: It’s All Just Fig Leaves (pt.4)

christian fashion--what should christian girls wear

A while back I posted something on my facebook page about my rule of thumb for fashion. Here it is:

When I get dressed in the morning, instead of asking “Do I look good in the outfit?” I try to remember to ask “Does Jesus look good in this? ”

I totally admit that it sounds a little ridiculous, (Jesus wears robes of light, Amieduh, you’re saying) but it’s how I remind myself that I’m really representing Him—that I might be the only Jesus someone sees. It keeps me from caring too much or too little about my outfits.

I was so surprised and confused when an acquaintance commented that Jesus doesn’t care what anyone wears—that’s he’s too busy dealing with things like war and rape and atheism to give a poop about something as menial as clothing.

I was kind of taken aback, but maybe I shouldn’t have been.

I know that your wardrobe is not God’s priority. In fact, all clothing is really just fig leaves! Yeah, you heard me!

In the Bible, Adam and Eve were clothed with God’s righteousness before they sinned, after they sinned, they felt shame—they realized they were nekked and they grabbed for some fig leaves for covering! Ever since that moment, humankind has been trying to recover from that sense of shame. We buy what we buy to try to overcome this sense of not being enough.

In a way, fashion is just fig leaves.

But God cares about those fig leaves and here’s why:

Anything you wear is basically the marketing or advertising for the product inside. It says something about you.  That’s why we are attracted to certain brands and styles—because they supposedly tell others about the kind of person we are.

Think about it this way: clothing is to a person like packaging is to product.  Packaging is important!

One time, I had gotten home late and was finally getting ready for bed. I squeezed the tube of toothpaste onto my toothbrush and proceeded to put the brush in my mouth. It was at that moment that I appreciated distinctive packaging because the colgate packaging looked strikingly similar to the store brand diaper cream that I was now brushing my teeth with.

Your packaging is important to God too. He wants it to match the character within you that he’s given to you through Jesus. Just as it would be confusing to shoppers for a product to be mislabeled to too close to another, it’s confusing to those looking for the message of Christ’s character to see Christians caught up in the same fashions of the world.

Does that mean you shouldn’t shop at the mall? No way! It just means that we should give some thought to our personal choices.

In the next segment, I’ll share the questions I ask myself when I make apparel decisions! Chime in with your comments below, and as always, feel free to email me any questions at Amie@greaterthanrubies.org.

Blessings!

–Amie

Christian Fashion: Hearts VS Hemlines (pt. 3)

christian fashion--what should christian girls wear

Last session I brought to you the myth of modesty, which is the idea that to be modest in God’s eyes, you must be careful in measuring your shorts and tee-shirts in order to meet some Biblical standard.

I busted that myth—because the measurement is not of inches or millimeters of hemline, but of the heart! Modesty, in the Bible, is dressing appropriately, orderly and with humility before Christ.

To cement this concept, let me ask you a few questions:

Can you be fully dressed and immodest? Absolutely! You could be wearing tons of fabric and peacocking around to draw attention to yourself and your homemade Shakespearean ball gown. (But mad props on those sewing skills.)

Can you fully dressed and modest? Of Course! We don’t have a problem seeing that those things can go hand in hand.

Can you be undressed or less dressed and immodest? Of course. We all know those who have selected clothing with an obvious intent to draw attention to themselves—for whatever benefit, to appear sexual in order to seduce men or influence how much they make in tips, or to be on top of the trends, etc.

But can you be undressed or less dressed and still modest? Of course!

Think of  when you were little and saw National Geographic for the first time. I remember losing my mind over the ladies with fully exposed breasts, but there was no immodesty—those women were simply living their normal life. AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL to see cultures who are not wrapped up in sexualization of breasts–but see them as the life suppliers that they are.

So you can see by these questions of logic that modesty is truly a heart—not a hemline issue and that there is some cultural relativity at play here?

Here’s where people get hung up though…so answer this.

Can a woman can be fully modest between her own heart and God…in her yoga pants or her tinniest running shorts or whatever, and be a serious sexual temptation to men or other women?

Yes, sure she can. And its frustrating because some people are gonna think lustful thoughts when they look at a taco platter. We can’t help them.

So now the question is not…are yoga pants modest or immodest—because we KNOW that depends on the heart of the wearer.

Now the question is what do we do with other people’s lustful thoughts about us? How far should we have to go out of our way to help our brothers avoid temptation—especially when we know there is a certain percentage of folks who are constantly thinking about our bits no matter what we’re wearing.

Here’s what I believe the Bible means when it talks about modesty, humility, or “shamefacedness” as the King James translates the word—when a woman is truly modest—humble before God, she understands the gravity of sin and she does not wish it for herself or her brothers in Christ. 

I truly believe that although she would never be responsible for a man’s sin of lust, a modest woman will consider her clothing options when she’s gonna be around men. Not because it would be her fault if he had unpure thoughts, no no no—let each person claim their own sins. A modest woman loves her brothers so much, she wants to help them live without unnecessary temptation.

Girls, ask any Godly man and he will tell you—he appreciates the effort you make to protect his eyes! (By the way, HE TOTALLY should be doing the same for you. This is not a “girls only” issue.)

Now, let’s get on to the next question: beyond modesty, does what you wear even really matter to God?  Join me next segment for “It’s all just Fig Leaves.”As always, your emails and comments are appreciated!

–Amie

 

Christian Fashion: the myth of modesty (pt. 2)

christian fashion--what should christian girls wear

If you were on the internets at all last year –even up to this spring, you may have seen an inordinate amount of blog and news coverage on…wait for it….yoga pants and leggings! Because…standard facebooking Americans!

Anyway, the discussion got pretty heated with all sorts of hashtag haters on both sides of the controversy. The arguments basically went like this.

Position 1: Yoga pants are immodest and distract people—especially young men.. They should not be worn as pants at school, or possibly even in public as one law-maker suggested.

Rebuttal:  Young women should not be taught that they need to change their appearance because they are distracting men. Women should be proud of their bodies and have the freedom of personal expression, which includes wearing yoga pants if they so choose.

Remember this now?

Yeah. I just jogged your memory, and I did my jogging wearing yoga pants.

 

Here’s the interesting thing: no matter where you stand on this particular issue, we are talking about the same topic. Modesty…what is it? What does it matter? How does it affect my real life?

 

Now I admit, that when I heard the phrase “modest is hottest” I thought it was cute! If one of my friends asked me how they looked, I’d be like. Girls, yaaaas. Modest IS hottest. Rock that maxi! But then I realized I had no idea what I was even talking about.

What is modesty, exactly? The Bible talks about it as a virtue in 1 Tim 2:9—but there is no place where I read…”Though shalt ensure thy hemline is no more than a hymnals length above the knee.

So what is it? Is it the difference between an inch or two of fabric on your shorts or scoop neck top? Is it a one piece instead of a bikini? I want to submit something to you—modesty, as it exists in many of our religious systems is a hemline measuring myth!See, the word translated as “modest” in 1 Timothy is less about how much flesh you have showing, and more about your heart.The word means, well-ordered or prepared, appropriate to the situation. In other places modesty is also translated as humility…as one who comes with a heart empty of self.

True modesty is a humbleness of heart and Christian modesty seeks, not to lift up self by wearing too little, too much, too expensive, too cute, but to lift up Christ. See you can be fully covered and immodest. You can also have less on and be fully modest (ie..king david dancing in his undies for the Lord).

The question is, in your dress—do you seek to exalt self and self-expression, or is your wish to express Christ and his Character?

 

I’d love to hear your comments on this thought about modesty as a heart issue vs. a hemline issue—have you heard this explained this way before? Lemme know below!

 

Strange Rules: boarding school and the Bible

STRANGE RULES

I’m adjusting to boarding school…slowly. I’m staying here as part of a part time youth evangelism job!
I recently heard some announcements before one of the dorm worships that taught me a lot about the strange culture that develops when young adults are heaped together without having come from similar backgrounds.

 

There are a lot of rules here—because not everyone received the same education about etiquette and taking care of property. Some of the rules include the following:
1. (Always wear your ID Badge.) If you don’t badge on campus, you don’t belong on campus.
2. (Dump your ramen broth outside, but not your noodles.) Dump the broth outside on the lawn, but not the noodles. No one wants noodles stuck to their shoes as they trudge to class.
3. No playing with Grace’s wheel chair. It’s not a toy. (fold it up if its in your way, roll it to the side, but otherwise. NO TOUCHY!
4. When using the bathroom, employ the “mercy flush” method. Dump ,flush, wipe, flush. At least two flushes. Based on volume, maybe three.
5. (Not in video) No wearing blankets to breakfast. Blankets are not clothing, except for when they are ponchos, which are basically blankets with armholes. Ask a dean if your poncho is acceptable. sheets are never ponchos. Neither are paper towels.

I was dying inside when I first heard these rules. WHAT? WHY? I was asking myself. What on earth could have made these rules “a thing”? Who even cares?
While I was puzzling over these, I remembered some really weird rules of the Bible.
1. Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head. (Leviticus 19:27)
2. Don’t grab the private parts of a man fighting with your husband. (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)
3. Carry a shovel with you to cover up your excrement (Deuteronomy 23:13)
And there are plenty more.
And they don’t make sense to me either. WHAT? WHY? Who would have to be told some of these things?
But these people were in various states of understanding, various states of responsibility and they were a community. Sure, some of the rules seemed really strange, and I bet there was some complaining, but on the whole, the rules raised the standard of the entire group of people. And there WERE reasons for the rules, even if we don’t understand them all.
Just like there are reasons for not moving Grace’s wheel chair (SHE CAN’T WALK, PEOPLE!) and not dumping your ramen broth (the fat congeals and clogs the drains) and for double flushing when you use the toilet (again, the clogs!) God has reasons for his rules too. Some are eternal and explain God’s character, many were given to protect your health, and others were temporary civil laws that taught people at that time how to interact.
The more days I’m here at a boarding school, the more I understand what’s behind the rules. And it helps me understand that just like us, God’s people were a diverse group of people from everywhere who needed to know how to interact with God and eachother.  They needed rules to function well–and even to know how to dispose of their poop. Just like us. And that’s fabulous.

See the youtube video on this topic.

Christian fashion for teen girls (What should a girl wear? Pt. 1)

christian fashion--what should christian girls wear

Christian Teen Fashion Intro: My personal transition

Modest is hottest, some Christians say…while others are quick to defend their yoga pants as only evil in the eye of the beholder. Can we wear whatever we want as Christian girls and young women? Should we? Does any of this really matter?

I want to address some of these questions, hopefully in a fresh way, in this series on Christian Fashion–starting with my own journey.

———

I had gone to visit some friends in Texas circa 2005 when one of them, Chris Petr, punched me hard in the conscience. (Ouch, that hurts!)

I can’t remember exactly how he put it, but he told me that if I had seen how a certain person was dressed, I would have crucified their fashion choices.

For a moment,  I was smugly stoked that he considered me the fashion goddess that I clearly was, but as a Christian, that term—“crucified” really stuck with me.  In a very uncomfortable way.

Shouldn’t I only glory in that term when I think of the grace it affords me?!

I made a conscious decision that day to be less concerned with clothing and more concerned with the people wearing it and the Jesus who died for all of us.

Flash forward ten years and I had come fuller than full circle. (That’s impossible, you say!)

I had just finished speaking at a women’s conference and was sitting with some friends, waiting for the evening’s “girl time”, to begin. It was all pajamas and snacks and a surprise special feature.

The featured woman took the stage and began pulling out outfits, breaking down the latest trends and colors. Girls who had just a few minutes earlier been focused on eternity where now fully enthralled in the pursuit of vain self-beautification (at least this was my view at the time). I remember being unreasonably irritated (or was it righteous disdain ;)?

At that point, I honestly wished I had been wearing a burlap sack—if only to be a silent rebuke to those who I thought were too into clothes. I turned to a friend, shaking my head. What are we doing? Jesus is coming soon, I said! She shook her head in agreement, but that moment was not the right one to start an uprising. And I have a different perspective even today…because being too in love with or too in hate with fashion probably nets the same result, which is distraction from the message of Jesus.

Being too caught up in clothes and accessories and lobbying against clothes and accessories BOTH take valuable time and brain-space that are probably better suited to getting to know Jesus and teaching his love.

I’m still trying to find the middle ground.  I love colors and textures and NEW, but I oscillate between wanting to shop, and being annoyed at myself for caring so much. You’ve probably been there.

Where are you at in your understanding of what Christian Fashion means? How do you deal with the OBSESSION with clothes and fashion that seem to plague our young women? How do you personally fight the beast of trying to live “in style”?

I’d love for you to contribute your ideas to the discussion in the comments below. You can also email me at Amie@greaterthanrubies.org.

Thanks so much and I’ll see you next time when I address the myth of modesty!

Blessings!

Amie

 

 

 

 

Christian On A Cruise Ship: 4 ways to witness aboard and abroad

christian on a cruise ship

I really don’t like cruises.

Half of you have dropped your jaw and crossed me off your Christmas card list. I know, I know I sound like a first world spoiled brat, especially when you realize that my parents just footed the bill for the Carnival Cruise I just returned from.

See, I don’t like cruises cause I’d rather get to where I’m going quickly and do some stuff. I’d rather not get seasick, or stuff myself to the point of gluttony at every meal, or get hustled to buy liquor, expensive spa treatments, bingo cards and overpriced photos every time I lift my nervous eyes to the circling sales staff. I’d rather not hear naughty children crying or mysterious scraping boat sounds overhead in the early morning hours. I’d rather be able to find my dad with a quick phone call instead of searching up and down the decks for two hours before having to leave a note on the FunShip announcement page with my eyeliner.

Also, I nearly died trying to work out. I left some of my shin meat on the treadmill and I had to rugby tackle my weights as they threatened to roll into a giant orc lifting to the left of me. Close call, Carnival. I recommend moving the medics nearer to the gym.

Anyway, I could go on for pages about this but there were definitely parts I LOVED about the cruise. The time spent with my family and the days in port and on excursions made for a memorable vacation.

Carnival Freedom Cruise Picture

One thing I really enjoyed is the challenge of practicing your faith in a new situation. Sometimes I felt awkward or annoyed at my surroundings, but over the course of the trip, I discovered 4 ways to be a Christian on a cruise ship.

Here they are:

1. Put away your judgy eyes. While it’s true that people should not eat full pans of bacon and that cruise guests throw away more food per day than some small countries consume and that some drunk people do try to take off their pants outside the karaoke lounge, we are not going to get anywhere with attitudes of judgment. Realize that folks may not have the benefit of education and awareness, or they may be drinking off a terrible life tragedy. Try to get to know people, and pray that the Lord will give you divine appointments to talk about how His ways were meant to benefit His people–“that it may go well” with them (Deut. 4:40).

2. Practice gratefulness. The ship’s staff work long and hard to provide you with the best service–especially the cleaning and dining crew. Those people are incredible how they remember everyone’s names. I’m guessing they don’t always get treated so well, so I try to up the appreciation factor by expressing how glad I am that they are working. This cruise, my sister-in-law was so thoughtful and brought the captain a gift. It made His day. Another idea is to bring stationery and write encouraging notes and verses for those who are likely under-appreciated.

3. Double-duty your excursion days. There is no rule that says you have to go prodigal and blow your inheritance in Cozumel. Why not serve for a day in one or more of your ports? Call the administration of your denomination and see if you can get in touch with any local congregations. I made some new friends in Isla Roatan, Honduras this trip and got to speak at their local high school. In addition, the Principal drove me and my parents around a bit and we saw some historical church buildings including the oldest church on the island. I even got three mangos!

Also, if you enjoy excursions, look for ways to prod people’s consciences about creation and use object lessons. Agree with everything you can instead of looking for arguments as some “witnesses do”.  Opportunities abound! For example, when climbing up the temple of Altun Ha, my dad and I were able to talk to the couple with us about gods that demand sacrifice vs. a God who provides Himself as one.

At Altun Ha, the gods required sacrifice. The Christian God decided to give himself as sacrifice. Jesus, among other Gods, is so attractive!

At Altun Ha, the gods required sacrifice. The Christian God decided to give himself as sacrifice. Jesus, among other Gods, is so attractive!

Rio Secreto

In Rio Secreto when talking about the thousands and millions of years of stalactite formation, I was able to ask the group if they had heard of rapidly forming columns. (I try to ask things when I can, if I have a differing opinion, I don’t want to think or act like I know everything.)

4. Bring literature. There are so many opportunities to share a tract or a story with those you run into . Children’s stories seem especially welcome. Whether you hand them out in person, or share them in the ship’s library, just pray that God will guide curious minds to them.

*Also, if you’re A Sabbath-keeper like I am and you’re on a 7-day cruise, you may have some extra challenges/ witnessing opportunities. Have worship with your group, play music, read your Bible and look for people who might like someone to listen.

Please, let me know if you have any other ideas for how to represent Christ while on a cruise ship!

Blessings!