Monday, July 31, 2017

God's View of Public Bathing

Dear God-seekers,

At this time of year, as millions flock to the beaches, pools, and water theme parks, Christians are among those throngs, and I suppose that most probably don't give a second thought to what the Lord thinks about it. They certainly won't hear it from their pastors in most cases, so I think it's appropriate to address this here. I am specifically addressing Christians only.

A few years ago, my family and I were among those throngs, but since then the Lord has spoken to us about His holy standards for His people. He requires holiness from us at all times, and without holiness, no man will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). When the Lord speaks about holiness in His Word, it applies not only to our inward lives, but to the whole person, including our bodies. He requires that even our attire and adornment be godly. All our apparel must be modest, as I have written extensively about in my articles, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Garments of Godliness, and Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy.

It has been a few years since we have been to the beach, and the last time we were there, we went in the evenings with our children, after the crowds were gone. While we remained fully dressed, we walked the beach together barefoot along the water's edge, as the waves lapped over our feet. It was a very beautiful time together beholding the majesty of God's creation, the powerful ocean with its surf and salty smell, as we walked with our feet in the water, collecting shells that we found along the way. Of course, there were still other people around, but not the usual crowds that are there during the daytime. I have included a photo above of one of those occasions, which was at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire in July 2013.

Hampton Beach, NH, USA in May 2011
The main issue with these places is that the clothing that people usually wear for swimming and sunbathing essentially provides the same amount of coverage of their bodies as their underwear does. Take for example the bikini bathing suit that women commonly wear. When a woman dresses like that in public, it is no different in God's sight than if she were walking around in public wearing a bra and panties. The only difference is the kind of fabric and the colors, but the body coverage is about the same. In fact, her bathing suit may even expose more of her body than her bra and panties would! Even other styles of bathing suits for women, such as one-piece suits, are not modest, because they expose most of a woman's body. The same is true of men's bathing suits, which cover about as much of their bodies as a pair of underpants would. Men's bathing trunks provide coverage similar to either boxer briefs or tight, stretch underwear. There are even bikinis and thongs for men, which are obscene!

This is not the way God's holy people are supposed to be dressed. It is worldly, immodest, and indecent, which is sinful. We are supposed to be separate from the world, peculiar, and pure. How can we do so when we are dressed like that in public?

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness." (1Ti 2:9-10). The same rule of modesty applies to men in Christ also.

Shells collected at the seashore
You won't find any Scriptural basis for mixed, public bathing. None of the prophets or saints practiced this in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus didn't practice it, and neither did His Twelve disciples. In fact, going into an environment like the beach or the poolside is just asking for temptation. All around you, there are people dressed naked and half naked, exposing their bodies for all to see. Some women when they sunbathe will even remove the straps on the back of their bikini top to avoid getting suntan lines on their back. Then there are couples who lay on their blankets together, kissing one another passionately. There are too many scenarios to mention each one specifically. Some of these sights occur very close up, and others happen off in the distance, but all are easily visible to anyone frequenting a beach or pool. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that the whole atmosphere is permeated by flesh. It is my advice not to go into that kind of an environment and expose yourself to that, if you care about your own soul and the souls of your children.

Jesus said, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mat 5:28).

He also taught us to pray that we would not be led into temptation. In fact, we must abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul (1 Pe 2:11). And we are supposed to flee immorality, but these days Christians are flocking to the beaches and swimming pools where inappropriate amounts of flesh are on display. The apostle Paul said, "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1Co 6:18-20).

If you know that the environment at the beach or pool may tempt you, your spouse, or your children, then why would you go there? You are just asking for trouble, by knowingly going into a place where there is temptation. And if you know that you could cause someone else to stumble, possibly even a brother or sister in Christ, then why would you do that? You could cause someone to stumble either by the way you are dressed or simply by your act of going to such a place.

Paul wrote, "Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit...It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles." (Rom 14:16-17, 21)

Shells collected at the seashore
Remember that the Lord will hold you accountable for everything you do while in the body, whether good or bad. "So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God." (Rom 14:12)

Perhaps you are thinking that this is too severe, and we cannot possibly avoid this recreational pastime. Well, the Lord said "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Mat 5:29). He commanded you to guard your soul by cutting out of your life those things that offend you and others, which could cause you to end up being thrown into hell.

As I already mentioned, I confess that I was once among the throngs of Christians who go to the beach. I was even a Sabbath breaker. Sometimes after church on Sunday I would go with a group of young singles from my church to the beach and play volleyball. The sisters in our group were wearing the kind of immodest attire I have already mentioned, which is displeasing to the Lord. This ought not be so.

Nevertheless, the Scripture warns us, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom 12:2)

Putting it All Together
Whatever you decide to do is your own choice, but I have done my part to sound the alarm. I felt it was necessary to write and warn you about this, since it is so widely accepted in the Church. Please consider this prayerfully and repent, if it is applicable to you. Jesus is coming back very soon. Do you think He is going to rapture you up, while you lay there on the beach among thousands of naked and half naked people, and you yourself are dressed immodestly? He is coming for a holy Bride without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:27).

If you want to go for a walk along the beach, because you want to see the Lord's beautiful creation, collect seashells, or spend time in prayer there, or read the Bible, and you believe the Lord has given you the liberty to do so for the glory of God, then I suggest you find a time to go there, such as during the cooler months, or in evening or very early morning, when there are far fewer people there. Or find a secluded place away from the  crowds. And if you do go, dress modestly. Please cover your body! Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Author holds exclusive rights to all photos, which are not to be used without permission.

Author's note Also see Garments of Godliness, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, For the Glory of God Alone, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Wardrobe of the SaintsAn Open Mind that Loves the Truth, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the WorldAsk for the Ancient Paths, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Pleasing the LordIs Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Called to be Blameless, Keeping Sundays Holy, and Restored Truth. You can access the Seeking the Lord Main Directory or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was Jesus "Seeker Friendly"?

I'd like to explore the topic of being "seeker friendly," which has become so popular today. When I use that expression, I mean that in the sense that it is used in the modern mega churches that like to attract crowds. I mean it in the same sense of the seeker-safe churches that aim to please the non believers in their midst in the hopes that they will find the church to be "relevant." Being "relevant" to the world is esteemed as if it is a biblical commandment in such churches. They assume the music, the atmosphere, the way people talk and dress, all have to be such that the world can relate to them. They typically have their Starbuck's coffee bar, their strobe lights, special effects fog, tight jeans, rocky worship, worldly video clips, and short, 20-minute sermons.

However, the way we go about making disciples should be according to Jesus. So the question is whether Jesus was "seeker friendly," also known as "seeker-sensitive." I believe you will be able to see clearly from Scripture whether or not He was. Here are some passages that will reveal the answer, because they show how Jesus was not out to "win friends and influence people" according to the principles taught by Dale Carnegie. Jesus was not everyone's "yes" man who agreed with whatever they said and told them what they wanted to hear in order to win friends to Himself and make followers out of them. In fact, he often said things that brought correction, reproof, or rebuke to men. He often said things that went directly against the assumptions people made.

Following Jesus Is Harder Than You Think
In the gospel of Matthew, it says, "Then a scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" (Mat 8:19-22)

In the first instance, the scribe confidently declared his allegiance to Jesus. But rather than giving him a big hug and welcoming him into the kingdom, Jesus told him that he lacked a place to lay His head, implying that anyone following Him may suffer similar hardships for His sake. The Lord did not use the "seeker friendly" approach with the man by telling him that it would be easy to follow Him.

In the second instance, a disciple requested permission to bury his dead father before following Jesus. But the Lord told him he should not delay following Him, even though that seemed like a valid reason to do so. He counseled the man to let others bury his father, but that he should immediately embark on following Jesus without delay.

A Rich Young Man Seeking Eternal Life
Do you remember how Jesus answered the rich young man who was seeking eternal life?

And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he *said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." The young man *said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Mat 19:16-22).

Did the Lord try to attract this man to follow Him by being nice and agreeable? No, He told the man "if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." And He enumerated a few examples of the Ten Commandments in answer to the man's question about which ones. Then when the man confessed that he thought he had kept all those commandments, the Lord even told the man to "go and sell your possessions and give to the poor." As a result of what the Lord said, the man "went away grieving." This is not one of the "seeker-friendly" approaches being used by "seeker-safe" churches today.

Unless You Repent, You Will All Perish
Consider how Jesus responded to those who reported to Him the news about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

"Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'" (Luk 13:1-5)

The people probably saw the fate of those Galileans as a judgment from God for their sinfulness, and perhaps they expected Jesus to agree with them. However, He did not respond like they expected. He did not strike up a friendly conversation with them, trying to find some common basis on which to build a friendship with them. He told them that unless they repent, they will all perish like those people whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices. In fact, He even gave them another example to prove His point, regarding the eighteen people who perished beneath a falling tower. Telling people to repent or else they will perish is not a typical "seeker friendly" approach.

None of Those Men Shall Taste My Dinner
Another great example to consider is how Jesus responded to the man at the table with Him, who remarked about the blessedness of those who will eat in the kingdom of God. The man probably assumed he himself was among those who would eat in the kingdom, but look at how the Lord responded.

"When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, 'Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!' But He said to him, 'A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come." And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the slave said, "Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the slave, "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner."'" (Luk 14:15-24)

In the Lord's response, He showed that none of those who are invited to God's banquet in heaven, and who make excuses, would ever taste of His dinner. Just because they have been invited does not mean they will be able to eat in the kingdom of God. Obviously this was not a standard "seeker friendly" approach to getting this man who was eating with Him to become one of His followers.

The High Standard for Discipleship
One last example will suffice to make my point. Jesus did not lower the standard for heaven in order to attract more people. In fact, when large crowds were going along with Him, He turned many people away by what He said.

"Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" (Luk 14:25-35)

In this passage, the Lord said many things that the large crowds with Him would have found hard to bear. He said that if anyone comes to Him, he must hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life. He said that if anyone does not do so, they cannot be His disciple. He said that anyone who does not carry his cross and come after Him cannot be His disciple. They must be cross-bearing followers of Jesus. Nothing else would do. He also said that none of those present there in the crowd could be His disciple unless he would give up all his own possessions. Rather than get them to say a quick prayer and treat them as one of His followers by virtue of the fact that they were going along with Him, He instead counseled them to go and count the cost of being one of His disciples. He emphasized that there would be a great cost. In fact, He indicated that it would cost them everything. These are not the words of a "seeker friendly" preacher who wants to attract the crowds to follow the Lord.

Putting it All Together
Through these examples from Scripture, I have shown that Jesus gave people plenty of reasons to walk away from Him. He only wanted those who were serious and willing to pay the price. He upheld the high standard of the kingdom of heaven, and did not back down one inch for anyone. He preached against sin and taught that sincere repentance is required to be saved.

Yet today so many preachers are giving people a watered-down message and making it easy for them to enter the kingdom. They are trying to attract the crowds by being "seeker-friendly" and "seeker-sensitive." This approach avoids offending people with the essential aspects of the gospel - the seriousness of sin, repentance and eternal punishment. The seeker-sensitive ministry style is not the Scriptural pattern given by the Lord in His ministry. Those who use that approach are preaching a different gospel rather than the one Jesus preached. Theirs is a gospel without repentance. Rather than preaching against sin, they are preaching what David Wilkerson once called "The Gospel of Accommodation." They are failing this generation. They are doing a disservice to the Lord and His kingdom, because they are giving those people the illusion that becoming a disciple of Christ is easy. And they are persuading those who make "decisions for Christ" to think that they have become true disciples of Christ, when in fact they have not, but have actually joined a false representation of Christianity.

There are many churches like these today, but we need to get back to the gospel. We need to get back to following the pattern that Jesus gave us for making disciples. We need to give people the truth and not a candy-coated message or church experience. We may get fewer numbers of people, but at least they will be true disciples, and not crowd followers.

What about you? Are you a crowd follower or a true disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you an easy believer or have you made the decision to take up your cross and follow Jesus? I hope this article has served as a wake up call for you to show you your true spiritual condition and that of your church. And if you know that you are in right standing with God, then why not share this with those you love, so they can be, too?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read The Top Ten Things Jesus TaughtWisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of DiscipleshipPopularity of the GospelMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

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Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.