What does Memorial Day mean to you - the beginning of summer vacation, bar-b-ques in the back yard, family get-togethers, the running of the Indianapolis 500? All kinds of things happen this holiday weekend.
But it would be good for us to pause and think about what Memorial Day really means, for its very name, "Memorial Day," calls us to remember.
This day that has been set aside for Memorial Day started near the end of the Civil War. Some people in the South decided to place flowers on the graves of soldiers who had given their lives for the Confederacy. By 1868 the practice of placing flowers on graves had spread both north and south and was being called by almost everyone, "Decoration Day." Then, after WW 1 it became a nationally recognized Memorial holiday when our country pauses to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.
We understand by doing this that living in this country is a wonderful privilege, and it came this way because a tremendous price was paid by many who gave their lives that we might live in this land and enjoy the privileges that are ours. We need to remember that. (Adapted from a sermon by MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER BROWNSVILLE, TX).
As important as it is to remember those who gave their lives so we in America can enjoy the freedoms we have we also need to realize there is something else even more important to remember. 2 Tim. 2:8 tells, “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” Paul is reminding us that Christ is human (seed of David) and fully God who was raised from the dead. This is essential for us as Christians to always remember and never forget.
I hope this weekend as we enjoy the beginning of summer activities we will pause and remember those individuals who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in the United States. But most of all I hope we each remember the love, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and remember Him each day we have the breath of life.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Years ago, I drew the assignment to teach a Ladies’ Bible Class on the subject of motherhood. I felt imminently qualified! After all—I had a mother! I had also observed my wife being a mother to my two children. Now, all I had to do was to go to the appropriate verses in the Bible and I could advise all the mothers in the class on how to do their jobs better!
Naturally, I turned to Proverbs 31. "The Worthy Woman." Even as I announced the text, a young woman in our class audibly groaned. Her reaction surprised me. She was a very faithful and dedicated Christian. She was a preacher’s daughter and a deacon’s wife. She had two pre-school-aged children and was working a part-time job outside the home. In the eyes of many—she had it all and did it all!
When I inquired about her reaction she said, "whenever I study that passage it makes me feel like a failure." Immediately, the rest of the class chimed in! "The expectations are too high." "The work is too demanding." We don’t get any help from our husbands!" "Our friends who work outside the home look down on us." "Stay-at-home-moms get stuck with all the volunteer jobs at school and in the church." All of a sudden, I realized just how unqualified I was to teach this class. It was exactly the reason that Paul instructed "older women to teach the younger women." (Titus 2:3-5) You can study it in a class, but until you "walk the walk" you really aren’t prepared to "talk the talk."
In the years since I have grown through the study of scripture and of life to more fully understand the importance of the role played both by mothers and fathers. There are several things about Proverbs 31 that need to be understood for it to be fully appreciated.
First, these words were written by a mother to her son (King Lemuel)! (Proverbs 31:1) They were written to guide him in his quest for a wife. So we know, right away, she was speaking of an ideal wife. Few women could live up to every quality described in this passage.
Second, most scholars believe this description to be a summary of the life-role of a mother and a wife. Obviously there are times in our lives where the most "pressing" needs take the greatest "precedence." A woman with small children doesn’t have time to "make sashes" or "plant a vineyard!" At other times in her life she is more free to "buy a field and stretch out her hand to the poor!" Paul gives credence to this view when he lists the qualities of a widow who is worthy to be supported by the church. She was to be "well reported for good works; having brought up children, lodged strangers, washed the saint’s feet, relieved the afflicted and followed every good work." To qualify—she had to be at least 60! (I Timothy 5:9-10)
What I do believe that Proverbs 31 does emphasize is relationships. A wife and a mother’s true virtue is revealed in how she deals with the relationships God entrusts her with. Relationships that can and should be prioritized! They are—in order of importance: First, her relationship to God. "A woman who fears the Lord shall be praised." Second, her relationship to her husband. "The heart of her husband safely trusts in her. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." Third, her relationship to her children and in making a home for her family. "She brings her food from afar. She is not afraid of snow for her household. Fourth, her relationship to those she serves as she serves God. "She stretches out her hands to the poor. She opens her mouth with kindness and wisdom." Fifthly, she takes care of herself. "She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen."
The truth is all of these relationships emanate from one. She loves God! Her love of God shows itself in the fruit of her good works.
So, to all wives and mothers, there is good news to be had. God doesn't expect you to "have it all" or be able to "do it all." Do what you can—when you can. Enjoy each season of your life. In doing so, God will be pleased and those who are most important in your life, your family, will be blessed.
"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." (Author Unknown)
Here is an excellent article explaining why we encourage a prom alternative...http://thecolleyhouse.org/tag/prom. There are several other good articles as well. May want to bookmark this one!
Every year at this time, I’m reminded when I go to the hairdresser’s that it’s almost time for prom. Then when I go to my favorite consignment shop, I’m reminded by the mother-daughter browsing clientele that it’s almost time for prom. When I look at Facebook, I’m reminded by the prom-posals that have been captured on video that it’s almost time for prom. Truly a lot of time and effort go into the planning and execution of what America has come to view as a sort of rite of passage for teens to enter the world of “adulting”…at least on some social level. Teens know that they are expected to attend, so much so that, if they are not planning to be there (and I mean planning in a comprehensive sense of the term), some explanation is expected.
Today, I hope readers will take the time to listen to a couple of perspectives on the prom. Be sure you listen through to the perspective of a band director in one of our local high schools. May God bless all of our teens who are approaching all of the decisions that go with prom night. One of those decisions is both difficult and consequential.
(This is a rather long article, but I would ask that you read it, all of it, before you assume you know what I am going to say. I have no desire to “spy out another person’s liberty,” but at the same time, I do desire to warn brethren of pitfalls that can harm them. I hope you will find it balanced and truthful, and worthy to share with your Christian friends. — Steve Higginbotham).
I believe the headlines say it all: “How To Have The Most Romantic Night Ever,” “Tonight Will Last Forever,” “Dresses So Hot They Sizzle,” “Your Hottest Prom Body,” and “Sex – It’s Your Call.” These are the messages being marketed to teens regarding the High School rite of passage called, “The Prom.” These were the headlines of such magazines as “Seventeen,” “Young & Modern,” “Prom Magazine,” “Your Prom,” and “Modern Bride,” which all published special issues promoting the Prom. I believe that these popular teen magazines are sending our young people some rather disturbing messages about priorities in life as well as sexual purity.
Before picking out a dress or a tux, or helping your children to do so, I would like for you to weigh the following thoughts before deciding to attend the Prom.
First of all, there is the issue of dancing to consider. Is dancing wrong? No, not necessarily. There is no sin in moving one’s feet to the rhythm of music. Not all dancing involves indecent dress, unchaste contact, or illicit movement. In fact, the Bible records instances when righteous men danced as an expression of their joy (1 Chronicles 15:25-29).
However, dancing that calls for close bodily contact between unmarried males and females; that involves indecent and suggestive bodily movements; and involves impure handling of a dance partner is wrong. The kind of dancing that God’s word condemns is the kind of dancing that stirs one to have impure thoughts, and act in impure ways. Frankly, that is precisely the problem with most of the dancing that takes place today. Its appeal is sex. Now, there is nothing wrong with sexual attraction either. In fact, sexual attraction is a perfectly healthy matter that God created. However, that attraction must be kept within proper bounds. It should never be tantalized or it will very likely get out of control. Unmarried people who have no legitimate means to fulfill their sexual desires need to be extremely careful to avoid any situation that could feed or flame such desires.
While it is true that the Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not dance,” it does say that those who practice “reveling,” “licentiousness,” and “such like sins” shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). There was a time when there was hardly any Christian who would openly defend dancing. The preachers of times past taught against it, and the congregation concurred. So, what has happened? Were the preachers of yesterday wrong about dancing? Has dancing cleaned up its act? Have God’s moral standards changed?
Without any question, none would argue that dancing has not become moral over the years. If anything, the modern dance is more sensuous today than it ever has been. Furthermore, preachers of the past were correct in preaching and warning against fleshly lusts which war against the soul (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 2:11). And of course, God’s moral law has not changed (Matthew 24:35). What has changed is the level of discipleship to which some are willing to commit themselves. Some apparently seem to be more willing to justify what they desire to do than they are willing to justify God’s high moral calling.
Second, there is an issue of modesty. Many of the dresses that are worn at the Prom are “short at both ends.” I have been in the presence of young girls (Christian girls) who were bragging about how low-cut their dresses were, and how much cleavage they showed. In stark contrast to the mindset of these girls, the apostle Paul instructed women to dress in a manner that professed godliness (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Clothing that exposes or emphasizes those parts of the body that create lust is certainly inappropriate. What is the message of the clothing worn to the Prom? Does it profess one’s sexuality? Does it tease, and entice? Or does it profess godliness and purity?
Third, there is an issue of priority. Is being at the “in” place, and having the approval of one’s peers more important than one’s commitment to Jesus? Is one’s desire for peer acceptance stronger than one’s desire for God’s acceptance?
I have heard some parents speak and act as though their children will be scarred for life if they do not attend the Prom. Quite the contrary, my concerns are that a young person might be scarred for life if they do attend the Prom. Several years ago, the local Proms in the town in which I preached, resulted in…
- Guys and girls renting cabins at a local state park where some spent the night drinking and engaging in sexual immorality.
- Public intoxication resulting in arrests by the local police force.
- “Dirty dancing” (and that’s the way I will describe it. To be more specific would be offensive) performed on the “chaperoned” dance floor which is then broadcast over our local cable system.
- Immodest, revealing, clothing worn which leaves little to the imagination, and must elicit impure thoughts from those of the opposite sex.
- Young people lying to their parents about their whereabouts while staying out all evening and returning home in the morning.
- Parents who forced their children to attend the Prom against the child’s own wishes.
- Parents who attempted to convince other people’s children to attend the Prom because they would be missing out on one of the most important nights of their life.
And here’s the clincher…every one of the actions mentioned above were done, not by the non-Christians living in our community, but by young people who are members of the Lord’s church — Christians! If this is the way that disciples of Jesus conduct themselves at this event, then how do you suppose the world acts? It is no wonder that our school systems would annually mail out a letter to area churches asking for their help in keeping what they described as “one of the most dangerous nights of the year for our young people” as safe as possible?
I fear for those who go to a dance, spend all night with their date, come home the next morning (which happens to be the Lord’s day), and find themselves too exhausted, because of their carousing, to go to worship or to truly worship in spirit the one who shed his blood for their redemption. Do we really think that such actions will be pardoned or excused because, after all, “it’s the Prom?”
Young people, keep your commitment that you made to the Lord. Guard your heart and mind from the fleshly lusts which war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11), and guard your influence as well (1 Timothy 4:12).
Parents, help your son or daughter make decisions when those decisions have the potential to harm their relationship to Jesus. If your child isn’t strong enough, or mature enough to make a responsible decision, then exercise your parental obligation and make that decision for him. Periodically, because of the tremendous peer pressure they are under, young people need your help to say “no” and be strong for them. Help them make Christ-focused decisions that will bring honor to God.
Friends, whether Christian teens can attend the Prom and abstain from immorality and guard their heart as well as their influence is a decision that ultimately they will have to make, but allow me to remind you that the Prom is only one night of out an entire lifetime of events. That single night won’t “make” your life, but it certainly has the potential to adversely affect it. I, and thousands more just like me, can assure you that there is life without a Prom.
“Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness accord-ing to the word of Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16-18).
With all the talk of war lately, it is comforting to know that God’s army is larger than any army in the world, including Satan’s. As Christians, we are fighting in a spiritual war where Satan seems to be winning. Satan fools us into believing that he has won the battles that we face and because we believe this we give up and quit. When Satan tries to make us give up, we need to be reminded that God is much stronger than Satan could ever imagine.
For those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, God will give victory over Satan. God’s precious Word tells us that Christ has the power to overcome sin and death (Romans 8:37). Thus, by obeying His Word, we as Christians can benefit from Christ’s victory. We as Christians must remember that our God is great, powerful, and almighty. When we are faced with difficult times may we remember the advice of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:16-18, “Don’t be afraid…Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
God can do amazing things when our eyes are open to His will. God will fight for us and will help us win the battles of life. May we always remember that God is fighting for us!
Mark T. Tonkery