Are we called to look pretty and smell good?

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There has been an ongoing debate in my mind: is it better to look pretty and smell good, or do the very opposite? In the Bible, there are certainly people called to do both, however, the first disciples in the New Testament certainly smelled bad, looked bad, and didn’t get too much sleep. In the book of Ruth, Naomi tells Ruth to get all dressed up and smell good when she goes out to pick wheat so that a man will marry her-and it works! But we’re living in a New Testament world, right? And Jesus even rebukes the Pharisees for cleansing the outside of themselves without cleansing the inside. (Matthew 23:25-26)

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Awareness without conformity

Certainly, smelling bad, looking bad, and not staying up to date on fashion would be less worldly. However, in this increasingly worldly culture, that might be a bad idea. Obviously, not many of us want to be around someone that doesn’t shower, dress well, and look well, even if they are on fire for Christ. This is a grave misfortune, but it’s engrained in our culture’s minds.

We have to, therefore, look at the culture and be aware of it without being conformed to it (Romans 12:2) in order to reach more people in Christ’s name (1 Corinthians 9:20-23). Certainly, in our sinful nature, many of us don’t like to listen to people we can’t relate to. Therefore, it’s good to have a variety of people in the pulpit!(ie Fat, skinny, young, tall, short, and sports(and other hobbies) lovers)

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Natural or practical?

Sometimes, we have to make a choice: natural deodorant or regular(aluminum filled) deodorant? Aluminum filled is the only kind that smells good and supplies anti perspirent, a very vital protectant for some people with sweat glands that only exist in their arm pits… Based on research, we know that aluminum deodorant (ie most deodorants-anything anti perspirent) causes people to be more prone to breast cancer (slightly). Since I sweat up in there, I decided to go against what was ‘healthier’ for me so that I could relate and talk to people comfortably. Chances are I’m not gonna get breast cancer as a guy..especially since I eat healthy and exercise-which is most of the battle.

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Social Health > ‘Health’

Most assuredly, to an extent, social health is above other kinds of health-especially in a fellowship aspect! If you don’t feel comfortable around people (which is even more important in being a vessel for the Spirit to work through you than being diet/exercise healthy), it’s not worth it! (See blog post: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/god-and-nutrition-pt-iii-what-god-can-do-what-we-can-do/ ) Certainly, Jesus wants our hearts to look pretty and smell good more than our outer self. (Matt 23:25-26)

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Verses

Romans 12:2

New King James Version (NKJV)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

1 Corinthians 9:20-23

New King James Version (NKJV)

20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law,[a] that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God,[b] but under law toward Christ[c]), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as[d] weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

The Value of Trash

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J:

Why do you cast away your trash but not your wallet? Is not your trash of more value than your wallet? Which when used often causes sin to fall upon you? Or to have previously fallen upon Him who died? 

C:

If Jesus said to cast a limb from ourselves if it keeps us from Heaven, much more should we take into account ‘casting away’ material things.(Matt 18:8-9)

J:

For the wallet is more than often used to distract from God and His will (Matt 7:21-23). It is an object that causes greed, which causes death (Proverbs 1:19).

Most assuredly, your wallet will not enter the kingdom of God, and since it will not enter, it will not want you to enter either lest its only companion is lost. (Matt 5:29-30)

C:

The solution? As a daily practice, we must use our wallet both cautiously and sparingly in order to glorify God and seek God’s will in how to use it. We must pray and seek God’s will, through His Word and Fellowship, upon how He wants us to use it, it is a difficult task, I can see why the group of disciples Jesus sent out were instructed to not carry a money bag. (Luke 10:4)

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Verses

2 Corinthians 4:18: “…we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10: He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.

Proverbs 1:19: So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.”

More on $ ( https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/if-i-had-a-million-dollars-i-wouldnt-be-satisfied/ )

Shifting Technology from a Burden to a Tool

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When Jesus said drop everything and follow Me, He said it for good reason (Matthew 19:20-26). Most of us get distracted from seeking the kingdom (Matthew 6:33) because of technology and the fact that we aren’t using it the right way.

Think about a friend who is texting you “How was you’re day?” or “What are you doing?” instead of calling you and figuring out the same answers and more in 2 minutes. Or playing words with friends or video games. If I do it, it’s filling in Jesus time.

I feel much more fulfilled after reading the Bible and talking with God than playing words with friends, surfing fb, or checking email fervently. Think about the amount of time that could be spent getting closer to God if we dropped our reliance of fulfillment from even one of those things: Video games, Words with Friends, Angry Birds, Facebook, etc.

Besides, those things are only fun in the moment. It’s like bacon, it’s good when you eat it, but it makes you feel bad afterwards. Don’t let the devil convince you otherwise (Matthew 16:23). Think about how Jesus diminished Peter’s pride to admonish him and to bring Peter closer to Him. (Mark 14:66-72) Then his mindset completely changed into one that was clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5-8), now that’s a salad. An eternal one 😉

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It’s not that we can’t have fun, but certain things (ie video games, books, and TV) are meaningless without some kind of community and are just making us more worldly (John 17:14) as we try to relate to those characters and the perception of how they find fulfillment-which is entirely inaccurate (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). But during a board game or card game, you get to know a lot about real people. Social skills. We need those.

Playing online is all about the game and you are constantly engaged in the game, talking about it, and not talking about life. Besides, most people you will never meet in person.

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Now don’t get me wrong, many things tech-wise should be used for God’s glory, like blogging, Facebook posting, texting, and commenting to encourage and admonish each other to get closer to God (Colossians 1:28). But if we aren’t doing what we do tech-wise for the purpose of glorifying God, there’s really no point. If it’s not bringing us or our friends closer to God, it’s bringing them and us farther away and has therefore become a branch in which we step out on and don’t see God as well. (See https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/climbing-the-tree-of-life/ )

We must start ‘eating salads’ and start doing the things that seem boring in the moment but fulfill and satisfy us for the rest of the day, in the long run. (see https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-misconception-of-love-salad-bacon/ )

We often find that God blesses those moments and decisions of repentance into joy, though we may be blinded from that joy now or our mind so easily forgets about the joy He has given us before when we trust in Him alone. He wants us to be patient and trust in Him for that joy. (Psalm 40:1-4)

Cheating Heaven

God says yes and no to our prayers. When He answers yes, it isn’t always the yes that we want.

Think about your stomach hurting, you say “God please heal me.” Immediately, your friend comes in the door and says you have to get your appendix out. “No!” you say.

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1. It’s gonna hurt

God always has the best for us in mind, but He never says it’s not going to hurt sometimes. When is the best time that you grew closer to God? Chances are, it’s probably when you realized you were a sinner and allowed God to fill up your life (through prayer, praise, fellowship, and God’s Word) rather than turning to what we as a culture usually use to make us happy (TV, food, shopping, etc)

Many of us think that if it hurts, then it must not be God’s will, but what about all the disciples? Most of them got killed in the name of Jesus, and they were devout followers of Him. Additionally, I think about the consequences of not following God’s will, like with Jonah. He was told to go one way to preach but went the complete opposite way. The consequence? Eaten by a whale. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be eaten by a whale.

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2. The eternal perspective

We are limiting God’s plan for our lives if we force God to work in an environment that keeps us safe and without pain. Jesus even tells us we will go through pain as disciples of Him(John 16:33). We who are in Christ Jesus are not of this world, but we can’t try and cheat heaven while we’re on earth (John 17:14). We are to bring heaven to earth, not pretend that we’re in heaven on earth (Matthew 6:10). We are to work for Jesus Christ up until death; and if we really believe we’ll be in paradise for eternity, why wouldn’t we do so? (Romans 12:1-2)

I have learned to appreciate moments of pain and sorrow, finding my joy heavenward, in Jesus, and knowing that after this life, I will never experience those feelings again for the rest of eternity; also knowing that God is using these moments to bring me closer to Him. (James 1:2-3)(Hebrews 12:6-11)

This is not to say we can’t have joy in this life. We can! It’s in doing God’s will and growing closer to Him, not longing for the past, because we are growing closer to Jesus more and more each day becoming even greater vessels for His Spirit to work through us. (For more on this aspect, see https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/god-and-nutrition/ )

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3. Scriptural reference

John 16:33: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 17:14: 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Romans 12:1-2: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

James 1:2-3: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Hebrews 12:6-11: For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.” Ifyou endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Life as a brick wall

Often in the Christian walk, we are told ‘Don’t do this’ but rarely are we told what to do in its place.

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1. Sand vs Concrete

I like to think about it like a brick wall. When you decide to not do something, you’re taking out a brick from your wall, or life. Without replacing that brick with something better, you will undoubtedly fall back into that sin; if you don’t, you will not feel complete.

These bricks that we use on our own are weak ones, made of sand; they’re just filler and don’t have any strength to uphold us. They look good on the outside, but they often get crushed under the weight of other bricks and the sand falls when the wall is nudged. Then we have to replace them.

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2. A brick for a brick

We must seek out the power of Jesus to replace these bricks that we put in our lives with concrete ones that are unshakable.

-Instead of hungering for bacon, we are to hunger for more of God’s Word (John 4:31-34).

-Instead of lusting after women, we are to lust after knowing Jesus more (Matthew 5:28).

-Instead of thirsting for ‘strong drink’ (Proverbs 31:6), we are made to thirst for the living water that Jesus gives (John 4:14).

-Instead of seeking happiness, which is based on happenings, we are to seek the joy that only Christ can give in all circumstances, resting in the fact that while we endure tribulation, Christ has overcome the world (James 1:2-3, John 16:33).

-Instead of longing to hear words of the world, we must long to hear words from the Spirit through others.

-Instead of being caught up in the fantasy of video games, we must get caught up in the fantasy the God has laid out for us in the Bible and in our lives when we’ve dedicated out lives to Him (after all, there’s some crazy stuff that’s gonna happen and that already is happening!).

-Instead of praising idols, like our sports teams, we are to shift our praise to God for what He’s done for us through Jesus (John 4:23)(way better than what our sports teams have done for us!).

-Instead of serving mammon, we are called to serve God (Matthew 6:24, 4:10).

-Instead of seeking our will, we are called to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

-Instead of idolizing our family, we are to idolize Jesus (Matthew 10:37).

These are only a fraction of the bricks Jesus can provide for us when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior and let Him take control of our lives.

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3. Where do I start?!

Whenever we think about not doing something, we must first seek Jesus; rather than thinking about what not to do, let us think about what we can do through Jesus Christ alone. When we learn to replace the longings in our lives that are in the flesh with Jesus, there’s nothing He can’t do through us (Matthew 17:20-21).*

As we learn about God’s character and what He can do for us, our faith is strengthened as we believe He can be our refuge, comfort, strength, energy, provider, rock, and so much more. I invite you to read through God’s Word, including, but not limited to, many of the Psalms and a Gospel, to learn about all the things God promises He can do/be for us for we who have faith He is able.

Eat if from the master chef, not the new cook

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1. From the source

Think of the best chef in the world preparing the best dish. Of course, everyone wants to try it (who cares if it’s got a little meat 😉 Now what about your Dad trying to make the recipe on his own for the first time? Don’t get me wrong, Papa is a great chef, but not as good as the master chef. He wouldn’t be able to represent the dish as accurately as the master chef even if he was told the exact recipe as the master chef. So if given the choice, why would we eat the meal from Dad instead of the master chef?*

This is the common misconception of Christianity today. Even Jesus spoke against having sects in Christianity. Here’s the problem: These sects stem from us eating the bread of life from imitators of Christ. (Matthew 4:4) Many people in Christianity are imitators of certain disciples but not others: “Well I agree with Paul, not so much James.” But we end up building our life around the principles of imitators of Christ, not the source. We even base our life around our pastors, but they aren’t perfect either.

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2. Imitators of Christ

A lot of Bible studies I’ve been in like to focus on Paul’s writing. That’s good, but this is vanity and a grave misfortune; see, I had never read a Gospel and dissected it; I knew who Paul was in Jesus Christ before I knew who Jesus was. Now, Paul’s life is different from Jesus’, as it should be; and none of these disciples were perfect, like Jesus was. Debatably, Paul was somewhat of a people pleaser by nature (1 Corinthians 10:32-33), and he used it for the glory of God(1 Cor 9:20-22, Hebrews 12:14). But we should not strive to be just like Paul, although that was his calling.

God uses our sin for His glory; but Jesus didn’t care what people thought of Him from that standpoint-He was just doing His Father’s will. Jesus didn’t have any sin in His life to be used. Jesus calls us to say something to our brothers when they are doing something wrong, and that’s not people pleasing, that’s doing God’s will, regardless of whether or not they wanna hear it (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus Himself said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword! He came to set a son against His Father and a daughter against her mother (Matthew 10:34-39).

Paul cooks the main dish well, and Jesus is the source of it and cooks it better since He’s perfect. If Paul had a copy of a gospel, I’m sure he would have sent that to everyone along with his letters to show people Jesus’ perfect life, but that’s just not how it was back then.

When we are comparing ourselves to others, even the disciples and pastors, we are comparing ourselves to sinful beings, rather than the perfect One. Think of it like music, when a passionate, skillful cellist compares himself with Yo Yo Ma, he feels quite obsolete and that he must practice more than if he is only comparing himself with his cello teacher.

Paul, amazing as he is through the Holy Spirit, uses his people pleasing for God’s glory and to spread the gospel. Chances are, most people using the excuse of people pleasing are not doing this with it. If you aren’t going to use people pleasing to spread the word, it’s much better to get up in (prideful) people’s faces, like Jesus, and ask tough questions, and say it like it is (Matthew 16:23). Certainly, Jesus only did this with the prideful, rather than the humble. See, all the disciples were different based on what they learned from Jesus; they didn’t want people to follow them, but rather, Jesus. Not saying Jesus wasn’t compassionate, but when something was out of line, He said something about it.

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3. Enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14)

Many people assume the easy way for Christianity, “Well, Paul says this to these people so I’m gonna do that because it still lets me do what I want.” Or “I like this pastor’s interpretation of the verse better.” Better to assume the hardest way “because narrow is the pathway and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Jesus wants us to give it all up (Matthew 19:16-26). We must hand over the car keys to Jesus and sit in the passenger seat.

Rather than taking the scripture that’s the easiest to follow, lets raise the bar and take some of the hardest things Jesus said (ie Matthew 7:21-23) and have those be the new standard of our lives. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you, we’ll become less focused on the world, and more focused on heaven and the will of our Father. For it is better to have pressure in this world, as Jesus did, knowing that we’ll soon be out of this world and in paradise. (John 16:33, Hebrews 12:2)

(PS: please comment below if you think this is theologically bogus-I’m not trying to do that; but rather, fixate our gaze even more on Jesus)

Not what you’re doing, what God’s doing

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1. The fleshly lived life: how interesting…

I’ve been having conversations with a friend of mine, she is a believer, but never tells me what God is doing in her life. She is still living in the flesh. I owe it to the fact that she hasn’t given her life completely over to Jesus (Matt 10:38-39), in fact, she hasn’t given over very much. She is very much a checklist Christian                                                                             ( https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-hindering-checklist ).

She often tells me what she has done throughout her day, but I’m not concerned with that (Matthew 16:26). What I want to know is what God’s doing in her life, because His agenda and the way He works is way more interesting than anything we do on our own by our flesh (Matthew 16:23). For the things which are done in the flesh have been done before (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

I have had a number of situations where God’s plan was different and much better than my own when I went against my fleshly desires and let His agenda rule over mine. I chose to go ‘about my Father’s business (Luke 2:49) and to be a brother with Christ.(Matthew 12:50)

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2. The bar intervention

I went to a bar to talk Theology with some friends. They do this every Tuesday night, whoever/whenever someone wants to come. The night that I went, I was the only one there. I left, a little ticked with God. Wasn’t I following His plan? I looked in my wallet and realized I had a coupon for a free drink at the place next door, so I went in. I sat next to the bar planning on reading my Bible alone, but God had a different plan. Suddenly, someone sat next to me and we got talking about Jesus, not my plan. So I shared the gospel with him and found out his beliefs. It turns out his parents were marriage counselors with Focus on the Family and he had turned from his parents’ faith to an all encompassing New Age belief. I encouraged him that liberal Christians exist in this world, especially in Boulder. See, Jesus didn’t come to bring world peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). As God through the Spirit painted the Gospel for him, I left in awe of God’s plan, it was way better than mine!

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3. Confession

In some ways, I hate to admit it, but I’ve gotten to the point where “I’m not interested in what you’re doing, just what God’s doing through you in the Spirit.” Chances are, the more you’re following Jesus and making Him Lord of your life, the more He’s working in your life; and even if He was working in your life more before, now you are guaranteed to be more aware of His presence and work because you know more of the characteristics of God; from the Bible and seeing Him work in your life through the Spirit (John 16:13-14). Everything you do on your own was built upon someone’s knowledge. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 2:12).

I personally have learned the most about God’s character by reading through the Psalms and Gospels, specifically Matthew and John. The book of Mark touches a lot on Jesus’ emotions. We discover His will through reading The Bible, God’s Word, and in Prayer and Fellowship.