Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Modest is Hottest

I read that phrase - Modest is Hottest - on a tee shirt (similar to the one pictured here) worn by a college-aged girl in a magazine a while back.

You know, that message is one I believe is understated - and underrated. Most people today (women in particular) don't understand or care for the concept of modesty. One definition of the term modest states "unpretentious or humble." Another says, "avoiding being sexually suggestive, particularly in behavior or clothing."

I think if we combine those definitions, we have a pretty clear idea of what true modesty is. Not only does it mean to be humble; it means being responsible in making decisions about what to wear, and what NOT to show.

I've had a couple great conversations this week with some guys about this topic. Basically, we are all in agreement that females (in general) are entirely too scantily clad in public. They are wearing items that are either too revealing, or too tight - or both. And, not just at school, at the pool, or out shopping. They dress the same way at church!

Many ladies are "innocent" in the fact that they are simply wearing "the style" or what is comfortable. Others dress for attention. Either way, they are not only compromising their own reputations, but are also changing the thought patterns of men.

Believe it or not, men do not wake up and say, "Today, I am going to go to the store and see how many hot women I can find." In fact, most guys who are married would prefer to not see other women wearing inappropriate attire. Studies have confirmed this.

But, when girls or women strut their stuff, so to speak, guys cannot help but notice. It's in our nature. So, on behalf of all men, cover up! Wear kulats, a mumu, sweatshirts and sweatpants. Whatever.

I'm not saying that women should let their appearance go. Not at all. I wholeheartedly believe that women should try to look nice - just not half-naked!

And, even if you don't believe that "modest is hottest," you do have to admit that it's nice to leave some things to the imagination. And, remember, God intended for only your spouse to see all of you (both good and bad) - not the entire world.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vittles and Vaca

Well, it's finally happened. I am now the proud owner/editor of multiple blogs. I know...you're thinking, "But, you barely keep up with this one!"

I know, I know.

But, I am back in the game, and am now adding another blog to the mix. It's called Vittles and Vaca, and it'll be about nothing but food and travel - two of my favorite things!!

I invite you to check it out and share your own thoughts and experiences! We can all benefit if we share information. And, don't fret...I'll still let you know "What's Shakin'" throughout the week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Oh, it's the LEAST I could do!"

My favorite comedian is Brian Regan (I have said that before, and nothing has changed in 15 years). He does a bit about people who have the following exchange:

"Hey, man. Thanks so much for your help!"

"No problem. It's the least I can do!"

Regan goes on to examine the response. In his normally exaggerated tone and facial expressions, he reiterates..."Seriously. It was the LEAST I could do. If I could have done less, I would have."

Pretty funny when in a comedy routine. Pretty sad in real life.

Unfortunately, this reply is the norm in our world today. People, in general, genuinely want to get away with the absolute LEAST than can do.

It's as though they ask, "How little time or money can I offer to make myself feel better for doing SOMETHING, but not really have to sacrifice any more than I need to?"

What's the LEAST I can do?

Several years ago, I asked myself that very question. I had been attending NorthStar Church for more than five years, and had done nothing to serve others. I remember the first time that I wrote down my name to volunteer for something. I was invited to come to an orientation meeting to get more information on this ministry.

The entire time, I was thinking, "What's the least amount of time I can give to this without really having to compromise or over-commit myself?" But, God changed my heart.

That very night, the guy who was leading the orientation issued a challenge. He said, "Some of you in the room are thinking of only serving once or twice per month. But, if you only want to serve part of the time, you will only receive a fraction of the blessing God wants to give you."

That night, I made a commitment to serve every single week. And, for the next three years, I believe I only missed two Sundays. I was anxious to serve every week. I loved meeting new people and forging new friendships. And, God used that time to prepare me for full-time ministry.

But, it would never have happened if I had served with "the least I could do" attitude.

Today, I get emails and phone calls from people who want to volunteer and serve at the church. Some are eager to jump in and want to help whenever they can, and will serve wherever the need is greatest.

Others, honestly, only want to serve when and where it's convenient for them. The good news is that God still changes hearts, and what began as an "obligation" can still become a passion!

I challenge you to examine your heart and motives, and see where you have "the least I can do" stamped on various parts of your life. Then, sink your teeth in and make a difference - perhaps a bigger difference - in the lives of those around you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Caring Enough to Plan Ahead

Have you ever driven along the cliffs along that breathtaking section of Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Big Sur? The driver is faced with a difficult decision. He must choose between keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road, and sneaking peeks at the indescribable beauty of the scenery. And, there are sections of this amazing, yet dangerous stretch of road that don’t have guard rails. Talk about death-defying driving!

Perhaps you’ve driven in a golf cart down a steep hill, and the cart didn’t have a governor to control the speed of the cart. There was no built-in safety device to serve as a precaution against hilly terrain. Ever gone straight downhill on grass in a cart? The brakes are useless!

Or, maybe you’ve been to a circus where you witnessed a tightrope walker who chose to cross the high wire without a net. I still have the image of Tony Curtis’ character in the 1956 movie “Trapeze,” who was almost killed when he fell while trying to perform a triple flip with no safety net below. Entertaining, yes. Wise? Not so much.

We could list off many more scary scenarios in which we make a conscious decision to make things more dangerous than they really need to be. And, while the rush of the danger may be exhilarating, missteps and an absence of guardrails can be devastating.

I don’t believe anyone sets out to fail. Nobody wakes up and says, “I think I am going to make a royal mess of my life and those I love the most today.” Or, “Today is a great day for a train wreck!” It just doesn’t happen like that.

You know how it DOES happen? Lack of planning ahead. No safety net. No margin.
This sounds awfully trite, but someone once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” We all set high hopes and dream big dreams. But, few people actually create and implement a plan. They don’t create the necessary margin to avoid catastrophe. Not only financially, but morally.

Instead, people say things like, “I’m going into this with an open mind.” Or, maybe you’ve heard someone say, “We’ll just see what happens.” These are famous last words for many who would desperately like to rewind the clock of their lives.

I’ve heard Mike Linch, the Senior Pastor at my church, say, “If you wait until you are alone with someone from the opposite sex to set your limitations, it’s already too late.” You’ve got to set boundaries well in advance, and you’ve got to make them even more radical than you think, in order to give yourself that extra margin.

The same goes for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, shoplifting, cutting, and a bevy of other dangerous and questionable activities that are often fueled by peer pressure or low self-esteem. If you wait until you’re with a group of people who do these things to try and make a wise decision, it’s going to be very difficult to resist.

Instead, take time to look ahead to the next 5, 10, 25 years of your life. By doing this, you will capture a vision for your life. According to Andy Stanley, a vision is “a mental picture of a preferred future.”

We all want things to end well, but it is rare that people actually choose to preserve their “preferred future” by putting the necessary safeguards in place. Yes, it takes a little time and a lot of discipline. But, no one ever regrets guard rails. You don’t hear people say, “You know, I really wish I had taken a more dangerous route to get here.”

After all, no one consciously sets out to lose it all or to make a poor choice that leads to life-altering consequences. But, many of us set out on a collision course with disaster by failing to make wise decisions on the front end.

Plan ahead. Take radical measures to preserve those things you treasure the most (your character, your integrity, your spouse, your family). And, pray for the discipline and perseverance needed to see your vision become a reality!