This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: modesty

Susan’s Musin’s – Gossip

This subject has been on my heart over the past year after witnessing its path of destruction personally. To backtrack a bit, I grew up in a home where, thankfully, gossip was never very comfortable or welcome. I’m grateful to my parents for creating and maintaining that environment. I don’t want to paint an incorrect picture here though. Every person is born into sin with a carnal man who loves to gossip and lower others in order to raise himself. I certainly had, and still have, those temptations; but the environment in my home did not create a dark, moist place for those seeds to grow and produce bad fruit. Living in mainstream Christianity can be very sterile and convenient sometimes, and you are able to just walk away from someone you don’t like or someone who gossips, etc. So I ended up playing “dodge ball” many times in the church and schools I attended in order to escape much of the drama that goes along with hanging out with gossipers. I inevitably was sucked close to the drain a few times while trying to help friends who had been hurt, and that was plenty. Gossip truly is like a cancer, damaging everything in its path, and left unchecked can turn into a vicious monster. Now that I am living in Christian community, it requires an entirely different perspective. The Bible is very clear about loving your brothers and sisters in Christ. As much as you try to put your best foot forward, all of your faults and weaknesses are eventually exposed, and vice versa; and you can’t just walk away from people who are this or are not that, gossipers included. The Bible is also very clear about gossip and how God views it. And it generally comes as a package deal bringing along its invested partners: (“Good morning, law offices of Gossip, Jealousy, Pride and Envy, how may I help you?”) And I believe that women are especially vulnerable to gossip, although men are certainly not immune. Again, I don’t want to paint myself as some kind of “saint.” I’m not. I struggle with things all the time. Thankfully, my husband really helps me to nip my gossipy thoughts and words in the bud. As you can see below, God is VERY vocal in His Word about gossip. The more I have studied about it, the more I have been convicted and impressed of its gravity — a very serious sin, and an indication of a sick spiritual heart condition.

Lev. 19:16: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the LORD” Psalm 5:9: “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue” Psalm 34:13: “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” Psalm 101:4-5: “A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer” Provers 6:16,19: “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:…… A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” Proverbs 10:18: “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool” Proverbs 11:9: “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered” Proverbs 11:13: “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” Proverbs 15:4: “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” Proverbs 16:28: “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends” Proverbs 17:9: “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends” Proverbs 18:8: “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” Proverbs 20:19: “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips” Proverbs 21:23: “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles” Proverbs 26:20: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” Proverbs 26:28: “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin” Matthew 12:36: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” Eph. 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” Eph. 4:31: “Let ALL bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” 2 Thess. 3:11: “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” 1 Tim. 3:11: “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things” 1 Tim. 5:13: “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” Titus 2:3: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things” Titus 3:1-2: “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” James 4:11: “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge” 1 Peter 2:1: “Wherefore laying aside ALL malice, and ALL guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and ALL evil speakings” 1 Peter 3:10: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile”

These are just verses on gossip. There are also many on the fruit of the spirit, meekness, humility, and how we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, even MORE so if we do not like them. A.W. Pink states: “Remember we cannot successfully ‘pursue peace’ if the heavy burden of pride be on our shoulder: pride ever stirs up strife. Nor can we ‘pursue peace’ if the spirit of envy fills the heart: envy is sure to see faults where they exist not, and make trouble. Nor can we ‘pursue peace’ if we are loose-tongued, busybodies, talebearers.” My husband and I, as most of you know, have lived in Christian community with like-minded believers for over four years now. Over those four years, it has been exciting to watch our community grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, in repentance, obedience and maturity. However, there was a spirit of gossip, jealousy and pride in a few people that managed to shroud the community; and I watched it come to a head several times after it had pulled other members of the community into its web; and it had to be reprimanded back into submission, which lasted for a while until its ugly head couldn’t help but show itself again and again. I am a person who believes, in general, no matter what a situation looks like, there are always two sides; and it is best to hear both sides before coming to a conclusion. The interesting thing is that, living in such close relational proximity with the community members, I was very familiar with both sides. Finally, when jealousy and envy couldn’t get their way anymore in a few members, I witnessed a monster manifest itself when, knowing both sides, it was easy to identify when lies and conjecture were injected into the mix to feed the needs of the beast. I had never witnessed such vile perversions of the truth and betrayals of confidence, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was truly, truly sad. What is saddest to me is that the husbands of the women involved fueled the fire and did not stop their wives from sinning in this manner but joined in with them. What a mess. Sadly, those people chose to leave the community rather than pursue peace, grow in longsuffering and love towards the brethren and submit to godly, proper authority — all because of gossip and its partners leaving a path of destruction behind them (and probably ahead of them). Thankfully, there is a peace in the community now that could not be found before, but not before friendships, trust, and Christian community were deeply wounded. So I would gravely challenge my sisters in Christ to truly examine and check yourself and your motives before opening your mouth. And then, STILL choose to keep your mouth shut and pray, pray, pray by yourself for the situation. God is fully capable of handling things the proper way in His time. Our duty is to pray. Nobody else needs to know about it. Ask God to grow in you proper perspective, wisdom, discernment and maturity. DON’T DO IT when you are tempted to talk about someone. — and this includes crying on someone’s shoulder about perceived mistreatment, etc. If you must speak to someone, limit it to your husband or proper spiritual authority. Meditate on the Bible and what it says about this sin, and ask God to write these truths on your heart. And if someone comes to you with inappropriate gossip, nip it in the bud. Gossiping is a horrible example of feminine Christian graces, especially to younger girls who are always watching older women and their example. I pray for God to grow each of us in maturity, and for the Holy Spirit to keep our consciences soft to recognize and stop ourselves immediately before committing this ugly sin. Susan (“Did you hear about that lady, Susan, who wrote that blog post on gossip?……..Well, who does she think she is!?…….”) It’s your choice.

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Into Obedience (Head Coverings)

I remember in my teen and young adult years attending special church or city Christian events, and many times there were a few women who really stuck out in the crowd. They always wore very modest dresses and these “things” on their heads. I now believe these were most likely Mennonite women who wore prayer bonnets. I remember thinking I was glad I didn’t have to dress like that and feeling almost embarrassed on their behalf because they looked so different and “out of touch” with the times. I imagined what a drag it must have been to be brought up in their denomination. And on I went with my life giving VERY little thought of why these women dressed as they did.

Quantum leap 20 years ahead……I have gotten married, and God is teaching my husband and me so many truths in His word and is growing us by leaps and bounds (all thanks be to God). We have moved to Texas and are thriving living in community with like-minded Christian folks. God has begun teaching me about modesty as a Christian woman in dress and manner. Then the “H”-bomb was dropped.

Some earnest members of our little church community started studying the subject of women and head coverings in the Bible, particularly 1 Cor. 11, and other historical documents. Dave read a bunch of materials and then requested that I read and study them myself. “No problem, Honey! I’ll get right on it”. Laaaaa, deee, daaa, dum, deee, dum (scccrrreeeeeeeeecchhh). That was the sound of my flesh screaming NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, NOT MY HAIR!!!!

When I saw vs. 15 “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”, I thought, “Yes! No sweat, I can grow my hair long as the covering”. I was home free and my flesh relaxed. But after REALLY studying the chapter and reading other historical materials, it became very clear to me that God has provided an example in nature (long hair) to show that a woman’s head is to be veiled, and the long hair is not the veil itself.

A few other verses that proved to me the case for the head covering were:

vs. 6: “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered”. It seems to me a woman’s covering here cannot mean her hair because this verse says that if she’s not covered she is being so disrespectful she may as well be shaven or shorn which was a sign of extreme shame back then. If the hair was meant to be the covering here the verse would make no sense, but if taken to mean an example of a covering over the hair it makes perfect sense.

vs. 7: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” This verse talks about a man not covering his head. Well, if people’s assumption is that a woman’s covering is her hair, then to be consistent they would be required to assume no covering on a man means he should shave his head. So you would think we would be seeing a lot more heads of professing Christian men shaved. It appears to me this passage means actual head covering and not just hair.

vs. 14-15: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering”. If a man grows his hair long it looks feminine and womanish which is not natural or proper according to this verse. But a covering in nature (long hair) on a woman does look appropriately feminine and womanish. It seems to me God is graciously putting up a neon sign in nature saying that women’s heads should be covered and men’s heads should not.

Lastly, I did consider the argument used by so many professing Christians today that this teaching from Paul only applied to Christians in Corinth at that time. When I thought of the principles behind the requirement to wear a head covering, it is clear to me that they are timeless principles and make just as much sense today as they did back in those times. In my opinion the only reason it is not subscribed to today is because it is WE who have changed, not God or His requirements or principles. And that is no excuse in God’s eyes.

Dave never commanded me to wear a head covering. He only requested that I wear one during family prayer and public worship. I absolutely submitted to him in that, at a minimum, because I am required to (that blog post is forthcoming, Lord willing); but also because I agreed it was my responsibility as set forth in 1 Cor 11. As for anything further than that, he simply asked me to study and ask for God to reveal His will to me. Well, at first I did only wear a covering (a bandanna in my case) during the family prayer and public worship times. But as I studied it further and understood the principles of “why” God instructs women to do this, I realized I should have it on pretty much all the time I’m in public or in any kind of prayer before God. All throughout the day I find myself praying things as they come to mind, and it would be silly to constantly be taking the head covering on and off. Also, I realized, AGAIN, that it’s not about me, it is part of putting and holding down my vain nature; and it contributes to the image of modesty I am instructed to put forth. Lastly, it is good for me to have a constant reminder of the role God has given me as a submitted, obedient Christian woman.

My prayer, since God began to open my eyes to His truths, has been for Him to grant me continued wisdom, understanding, repentance and obedience in all matters. Reluctantly, this was one of those times where it was too late to turn back once my eyes had been opened. There was no returning without my conscience convicting me. I believe that if one studies 1 Cor. 11 honestly, he or she can come to no other conclusion than that Christian women are to cover their heads. In a nutshell, I believe the head covering is a symbol to your husband, God and the heavenly realms that you are in obedience and submission to God and husband and their authority; it represents a covering or authority over you, and by not wearing one a woman is disrespecting God and her husband. (This applies to single women as well).

This was a rubber hitting the road point in my life. It is a subject that has obviously been cast aside and marginalized by 99% of professing Christianity, so I had a big question to ask myself: do I make current culture and society my compass, or God’s eternal Word and the principles behind it? Well, my conscience answered that question right quick; but my carnal man roared like a lion because I couldn’t show off my mane anymore!! Good grief, when it actually came down to putting on the head covering every day, I practically had to have a funeral to memorialize my hairstyle and all the cute ways to wear my hair. I had no idea how vain I was with my hair until I had to cover it. (That was another part of my journey into modesty).

I am not a Mennonite, nor do I subscribe to all of their theology; however, I now look back on those women and greatly appreciate that their desire to obey and honor God and their husbands in their lives superseded their desire to look cool for a fleeting time here on earth. It grieves me that I have spent so many years plainly dishonoring God in so many areas in my life, including this one, and thank God for dropping those scales from my eyes to show me how He wants me to live for Him. And I can’t stress enough the importance of learning the principles and purposes behind all of these commands that appear to be legalistic in the world’s eyes. What a blessing to live a life of increasing obedience to my God and husband. I have never desired to be called a “peculiar” person, but now I consider it an honor. (Deut 14:2; Deut 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9)

I could go on and on about the proof and reasons I believe for wearing a head covering, but I won’t. If you are interested in looking into this issue for yourself, here are a few modern-day resources I have found to be very helpful:

Headcoverings Required: the Biblical basis for a neglected practice by Steve Richardson (audio sermon)

Should Christian Women Wear Head Coverings Today? by Robert Spinney

Head Coverings in Public Worship by Brian Schwertley

Reasons for Head Covering by Troy Dukes

My prayer for those God has brought to this blog is for Him to draw them to Himself and lead them on a journey into all truth which will bring glory to Him, and that is what it is all about.

Susan

 

Susan’s Musin’s: Journey Into Modesty – Breaking Up (with make-up) is Hard to Do

In the eyes of mainstream society and in my mind I wasn’t one of those “natural” beauties growing up who didn’t have to wear make-up to be attractive. In fact, I never had the courage to try this, but I would bet that if a woman who normally wears make-up to work didn’t wear it one day, her co-workers would ask if she wasn’t feeling well or if she was sick. Make-up is so ingrained in a girl’s thinking and identity from the time she is very little, I never even considered that not wearing make-up was an acceptable option.

I wasn’t a make-up fanatic growing up but generally did not leave the house without wearing the basics (foundation, cover-up, mascara, blush, eye liner and lipstick). I had a lot of acne in my teen years and even into my 30’s, so I felt I “had” to wear cover-up on my complexion to feel comfortable in public. I also felt I had invisible eyes and “had” to have eye liner and mascara on, if nothing else.

When learning about modesty (see previous post) from the Bible (1 Timothy 2:9-10 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works“), I suddenly felt pretty silly to be wearing such simple clothing and then to be made up in the face. It was contradictory to what I had learned about modesty in general. I was sending very mixed signals, saying, “Hey, don’t look at me……but do look at me!” So I started toning down the make-up, losing the foundation, and wearing more muted lipstick. Then I would only wear it when I went to town or when Dave and I would go out to dinner, etc.; and also when we visited family. Then I only wore a little bit of mascara, the last holdout, to make me feel less washed out looking and feeling “attractive.” Finally, Dave asked me, “Who are you wearing that for?” I hemmed and hawwed, “Um, well, so I can look better when I’m seen with you in public.” He said “Well, please don’t feel you need to do it for me; I like you better with no make-up”. To be honest, I cringed when he said that because deep down I knew I was clinging to wearing it for ME because I still wanted to look attractive to the world. I thought “Are you KIDDING me?!” How can you stand to be seen with a woman who looks so simple and plain?!” (Ugly was more the word I was thinking). “Don’t you know all guys want to be seen with a woman who looks her best and wears make-up?!” And speaking of ugly, I had just uncovered the ugly truth that I had let a good portion of my identity and self worth be overtaken by how I looked in make-up. The identity to which I had become accustomed had been taken away. But then God graciously reminded me that I as a Christian woman am supposed to point people to Christ through my obedience to God’s Word, not look attractive so God’s Word will be attractive. I had to repeat over and over again, and still do, “Modesty, modesty, modesty, it’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s not about me…..” Good grief, the flesh dies hard.

Over time though, it is becoming more and more a feeling of freedom not having to be reliant on and in bondage (of sorts) to make-up. And the natural beauty of the women here in our little neighborhood community really comes out in each smile and glow of their faces as they have replaced make-up with the true joy of the Lord, living in obedience to Him. I realize some of you may have rolled your eyes just then, but it’s true.

The journey into modesty is really an inside/outside package deal that covers every aspect of who I am. And I haven’t even written on the biggest issues yet! But I’m so thankful to God for even taking the time to reveal and teach me these things. One thing I have also learned is that understanding the principle behind something God has instructed in the Bible is KEY! I asked myself at the beginning of this journey, “Why does God require this modesty ‘stuff'”? As we know, nothing in the Bible is there without purpose. I believe God requires modesty in all areas of the lives of Christian women because the flesh IS so strong and also as a constant reminder to us AND the heavenly realms that we are part of God’s kingdom and not part of the world’s kingdom, and we are to be different than the world and set apart to be known as God’s children. It’s really for our own good and to glorify God, which in reality is what it is all about (which is that underlying principle concept I just mentioned).

Susan

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Into Modesty (aka: I’m So Vain, I Bet This Blog Post Is About Me)

Some of you who have known me for years have already seen or will be seeing in the blog pictures a change in my manner of dress. So I thought I would write a bit about the thought and heart condition change process God has brought me through regarding that.

There are many verses in the Bible instructing women as to how they should conduct themselves in all areas of their lives. To be honest, growing up I didn’t really pay much attention to that instruction. As long as I was a nice person and didn’t dress like a floozy, I thought I was fine. But as I have studied those scriptures over time, the Holy Spirit has convicted and shown me how to live my life as a Christian woman, more Biblically correct and honoring to God.

I’m going to focus only on modesty in this post and will try to keep it brief. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 states: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided (plaited) hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Ahhhh, that word is adorn myself, NOT adore myself……

Okay, so then I looked up the definitions of the main descriptive words in that scripture from the Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary:

Modesty: In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.

Shamefacedness: Bashfulness; excess of modesty.

Sobriety: Seriousness; gravity without sadness or melancholy.

Costly: Of a high price; sumptuous; expensive; purchased at a great expense; as a costly habit

I also looked up these words in the modern Webster dictionary where many original meanings of words have been lost. However, it was fairly consistent with the 1828 dictionary intermingling definitions of these words with “pure, chaste, decent, shy, clean, spotless, freedom from conceit or vanity, severely simple in design or execution, free from ALL taint of what is lewd or salicious”.

So in a nutshell, I as a Christian woman am clearly instructed in the Bible to wear (severely) simple, modest clothing (sending a message of chastity, purity) emphasized by shamefacedness (an excess of the aformentioned chastity and purity) and sobriety (to be steadfast and consistent in sending this message) by the clothes and other items I wear outwardly. I’m also not to focus on bringing attention to myself through lots of jewelry or “bling”, fancy or expensive clothing but to keep things simple, pure and unassuming. My main focus is to take the attention off of my physical person and live my life in obedience to God so the fruit of my salvation brings glory to and points people to God.

Okay, so now I had to take these definitions and lay them across my wardrobe to see if there was a “fit”. Well, if I was totally honest with myself, I would say my clothes, as modest as I thought they were, still stated “Hey, HEY! look at me”, “Do you think I have a cute figure?”, “Isn’t this outfit cool?”, “I’m very proud of the way I look”, “Even though I’m married I still need to stay ‘competitive’ with the women in the world so my husband’s eyes won’t wander”. It was very humbling and convicting. I also noticed that my wardrobe just wasn’t very “feminine”. I rarely wore dresses except to weddings and maybe a special occasion here and there. Otherwise, it was sweats, shorts, pants, pant suits, etc. I think society defines femininity as “tighter” pants and “tighter” shirts, etc.; but the Bible clearly teaches something different. God is very clear in the Bible that He made men and women completely different with different roles. And women are to look completely different from men as well.

Well, as hard as my flesh fought it I knew I had to make some pretty big changes. And I knew this newfound knowledge didn’t now give me license to “let myself go”, become a slob or not be presentable. I was even more accountable to God to represent Him in the world as one of His children. So over time I started buying and wearing inexpensive, simple, longer skirts and dresses, not showy or clingy but …….modest! And I have to tell you even though my flesh struggles, in my spirit there is a sense of peace and rightness because I know this is how the Bible has instructed me to present myself as a Christian woman. And you would think I would have become pretty invisible to the world; but I have discovered that my conservative manner of dress is very noticeable to the world, and they sense something different about me. I was not instructed by God to adorn myself with clothes to fit in with the world or so the world would be attracted to me but to adorn myself with modesty and obedience to His word to point them to Him. So it’s not all about me after all – who knew??!!!

The scary thing to me is that I was totally unaware of how my conduct and dress was an act of rebellion and disobedience to God, and I didn’t even realize it. I’m so grateful to Him for opening my eyes to it and giving me a desire to study it, repent and make the necessary changes.

Susan