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Modesty Reconsidered

By Jesse Jost

Until women stop having curves and men stop having libidos, I doubt the modesty issue will go away quietly.

Women have many reasons for what they wear and evaluations of those reasons have been discussed at length elsewhere. What I want to explore now is the effect some kinds of modesty teaching have on the male brain.

I have grown up in circles with a pretty clear understanding that women should dress modestly so that they are not “defrauding” or a “stumbling block” to men and boys. It is common to hear that men have enough trouble with the battle for purity without Christian women adding to men’s distraction with careless dress. I was also raised to avert my eyes away from a woman who dressed “immodestly.”

The ideas behind guarding your eyes are admirable:

– Look away before arousal kicks in and you find yourself being led astray by the deceptive passion of lust.

– It’s a fact that what we fixate on sexually retrains our sexual taste, and if we are lustfully gazing on porn or other women, then we could become less satisfied with the wife that God has given us. And worse, if a wife knows her husband has a wandering eye, his comparing her to other women can make her feel an increasing sense of inadequacy.

– The two best reasons to guard your eyes are 1) the example of Job who “made a covenant with his eyes to not look lustfully on a young woman,” and 2) the teaching of Jesus who said that “looking lustfully” at a woman is the equivalent of mental adultery.

Modesty teaching has some worthy elements (you can read my previous thoughts on modesty here and the importance of guarding your eyes here). But lately I have been realizing that there are some ways that Satan twists these ideas and they can become destructive forces in the battle for purity, the most destructive of which is this: the way to combat men’s lust is through “modesty.”

Continue reading…

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The Birth Story of Eric Spurgeon

by Jesse Jost

Two years to the day after our son Justin was born we awoke in the maternity ward with broken hearts and an empty womb. Our little Emmy left us to join her sibling Davey in heaven at 11 weeks pregnant. Heidi haemorrhaged fairly seriously and was taken by ambulance to Lethbridge the night before. As I looked at Heidi’s pale shaking body, I begged God for more time with her. God spared her and the following week was filled with sadness but also euphoria and fresh love between Heidi and me.

We both felt so carried. But the thing that made this miscarriage harder than last time was how hard it hit our kids, especially 7 year old Sophia. She thought for sure this was a girl and she would finally have her sister. It’s so hard to watch your little girl cry herself to sleep. But it is a faith builder to see how God uses these things to reveal Himself to our kids. Sophia has often said how God comforted her during those dark times.

A couple months later the pregnancy test read positive. Hope was mingled with anxious thoughts, just what adventure would this little baby take us on? Elijah who loves the story of how he arrived after a miscarriage, was fully confident that this baby would arrive safely just like he did. Mommy and Daddy really wanted to believe this, but knew that God’s ways are mysterious and not always our ways.

Continue reading…

  • Rachael

    Hello Josts!
    My name is Rachael Miller and I am familiar with your family because of TKSA when I went up to the Wahl’s while they still lived in Montana with my grandma. I first read your work and Heidi’s in the two books we received from the week: “If only you knew” and the other one about romance. (“Extreme Romance” ???) I was so excited for find your blog on here, and this post really sticks out to me because my husband and I just went through a painful miscarriage back in October of 2015. I am actually in the process of writing a book about our story to share because I feel like miscarriage is an issue that a lot of people don’t talk about and it happens a lot more often than I ever thought. I hope to publish this year. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Karen Davis

    Thank you for your timely words of testimony and encouragement. They were needed more than you will ever know! We have 7 sweet little ones safe with Jesus, and 7 here on earth (2 from adoproom). Our most recent joy is our 11 month old son Jaidon. While every one is a miracle…he is extra special. We had lost 4 in a row before him and 2 of them being ectopic. It was brutal and traumatic to say the least. I ended up losing a tube and damaging the other beyond recognition (according to Drs). They told us having more children was impossible. 2 years later….the Lord did the impossible…we were pregnant and the baby was safely and securely in the womb. Our son Jaidon was born healthy and beautiful, and continues to be a constant reminder of Gods will, timing, and goodness. A testimony for His glory!
    Now we find ourselves praying and trusting again as we wait for results on a mass/ lump in my abdomen. Oh the battle that ensues in the wait on our minds and thoughts!
    Continually reminding myself of His goodness and miracles looking at all He has done and continues to do in our lives. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away….blessed be the name of the Lord!
    Thank you again for your family’s faithfulness, transparency, and hearts for our Jesus. We will be praying for sweet Heidi and your family!
    In Joy for Jesus, Nolan & Karen Davis & family

  • Jesse Jost

    Wow, we will be praying! I know God is a God who loves to restore what is broken, and bring such beauty from the ashes. Thank you for praising Him in your storms.

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Righteous Anger: Can You Handle It?

By Jesse Jost

If you open your web browser these days, you’ll find plenty to get angry about: Planned Parenthood ripping up babies, ISIS mutilating Christians, politicians using corruption for selfish gains. Getting angry can feel good, maybe because our rage reassures us that we are in the righteous group of people who are above doing such filthy things, and that we still know how to acknowledge evil.

But is anger a healthy state for a Christian? How much of our anger is righteous and pleasing to God?

Righteous Wrath

Modern man is offended by the idea of a wrathful God. It seems a barbaric holdover from a more primitive time. “I can’t believe in a God of wrath, only a God of love.” My response would be, “How loving can God really be if he doesn’t get angry at what destroys his children?” Could a truly loving God simply smile benignly at rape, genocide, and oppression?

If you pull the wings off a fly, I won’t care. But if you harm one of my kids, I’ll get angry. What makes the difference? I love my child far more than I love the fly. The greater the love, the greater the wrath toward what harms the loved one.

My love is weak and unsubstantial compared to the mighty hurricane of God’s love. If you truly believe in a God of love, then I don’t think you have a choice but to also believe that God’s love makes Him angry at all that lures us away from Him into self-destruction.

When God became a man, He certainly got angry about the cancers of greed and self-righteousness. In a fit of zeal Jesus overthrew the temple tables and drove out merchants who were using religion as a means of financial gain. Jesus vehemently condemned hypocrisy and the casting aside of the broken and needy.

So if God the Father gets angry, and his Son, the God-Man gets angry, then surely we have the right – maybe even the obligation – to get angry, right? Isn’t the fear of the Lord to hate evil (Prov. 8:13)? Aren’t we commanded to “be angry, but do not sin?” (Eph. 4:26) Well, don’t get all worked up just yet, because I think the issue is a little more complicated. Continue reading…

  • Jan Jones

    I appreciate your thoughts. I have heard our (late) pastor speak the same thoughts; how we cannot really have righteous anger when we don’t know all the facts. And I frequently hear people wanting to punish wrongdoers in a horrific way instead of focusing on dealing with helping the victims heal and recover. It is easier to get angry than to get involved. I have heard mixed reviews on the book you mentioned, but your recommendation makes me want to read it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And thanks to your mom for sharing this link on Facebook.😊

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The Heart of the Worship Wars

By Jesse Jost

We just visited a church while on family vacation, and as I walked into the darkened auditorium, I felt tears welling up in a rush of strong emotion. Was this the presence of the Holy Spirit or a physical reaction to the pulsating music? The gathering was a campus church broadcasting a service in which a visiting worship band led music.

I grew up with the belief that drums and back beats were sensual or even demonic. While I now believe all musical styles can be redeemed and proclaim the glory of Christ, my staid and proper past sometimes colors my experience of worship music.

At first I settled in at the service, marvelling at the wonder of God, letting the music focus my mind on His glory. But soon, I found myself critiquing a style I am not used to. Thoughts cloaked in an air of righteousness intruded: Those pants are too tight. That dancing borders on sensual. Are they really worshipping God or simply performing? Do they have to jump around so much?

I stopped, forced to consider: Are these thoughts from God or some other place? What effect is my “discernment” having on me? Chastened, I closed my eyes and focused on God again.

My experience stirred up plenty of age-old questions. How should worship be done? What is true worship? Does God like the music loud or quiet? These questions split church after church, and bring division and tension into relationships as people contend for the righteousness of their view.

“We need to sing more hymns; these modern worship songs are bland, shallow and repetitive.” “These acapella hymns sound terrible and are putting our young people to sleep.” “We need excellence in our music, and a sound system that truly honours God.” “How can I be expected to worship when that song leader is dressed like THAT?!” Continue reading…

  • Ken Jost

    Jesse that was a beautiful revilation of worship as I have often criticized a rocking form of praise in my spirit. You nailed it.

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The Shack:The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

 

My thoughts concerning Wm. Paul Young’s best-selling novel (Note:this review was written in 2010, but with the movie coming out this year, I thought I would republish it)

By Jesse Jost

Like most reviews of The Shack, I start out by telling you that my curiosity was piqued by hearing friends rave about the book, both in favor of it and against. It’s hard to resist reading a book that draws the fire of trusted conservative voices such as Mark Driscoll and Hank Hanegraaff, while at the same time garnering from Eugene Peterson one of the greatest compliments a Christian work of fiction can receive:  He compared it to Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I picked up a copy of this story that has been on the bestseller lists for months and now fills the pages of over three million books worldwide. Now that I have read it, I understand the controversy and compliments this book has stirred. My own journey to the shack increased my dangerous leaning towards schizophrenia…part of me loved certain aspects of the book, while the other part of me was battling feeling “queasy” (to use Hanegraaff’s word) and agitated. So this review will be written by two people in one body. The parts praising the book will be written by my “ego”, while my concerns will be written by my “id”. (I may be using Freud’s terminology wrong, but only because I don’t care to do the research needed to accurately portray Freud’s theories. If he doesn’t like it, he can blame it on my repressed memories.)

Continue reading…

  • Bill Taylor

    Awesome review! My thoughts put down in your words. Hope it is okay to share.

  • Heidi

    Just take what God gives you & let go of the rest…don’t taint & polute for others. Who are we to even begin to touch on what God may do or heal another through a means he so chooses? He used a donkey…enuf said?

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What is a Woman’s Value?

By Jesse Jost

In her recent award-winning book, Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, journalist Peggy Orenstein surveys the host of sexual challenges and dilemmas the modern girl faces. On the one hand she encounters men who objectify her and tell her she is responsible to dress in a way that doesn’t “distract” or “tempt” men, but she hears little corresponding outcry for the way boys are “distracting” girls through inappropriate groping and lewd comments!

Girls are taught that they can dream big and be whatever they want, but many of the women who have made it to the top have done so by exploiting their sexuality. The implications of this and the corresponding advertisements are crushing: yes, they can be doctors, singers, and lawyers, but their value will still be rated by how closely their bodies conform to the unrealistic sexual ideals found in film and porn.

A woman seeking to make it through high school and college faces the unsolvable dilemma of trying to walk the line between being sexually active but not a slut, and retaining her privacy but not being a “virgin” or a “repressed prude.” Either way she will be relentlessly criticized and degraded for the path she chooses.

I was shocked to read what is expected sexually of a girl, even before she begins to date. Peggy Orenstein interviewed dozens of girls across cultural lines. Many of these girls were strong feminist dynamos with great ambitions to free women from inequality and fight for women’s rights. Yet almost all of them in the heat of the moment admitted to passively submitting to pressure from guys to give sexual favors. In each case the young woman was so eager to please, or so afraid of hurting the guy’s feelings,  she meekly surrendered, and what is sacred and wonderful in its proper context became a gross act of humiliation.

This is a toxic environment where guys beg and pout for graphic snap chats and then publicly humiliate the poor girls for the slightest provocation. Women are regularly described in obscene degrading language, made the objects of cruel hazing rituals, and face demeaning expectations to be a “friend with benefits” or be left behind.

What a confusing world, where a young woman dresses for a party and feels empowered by her revealing outfit, then quickly feels powerless as she is groped and objectified! There were so many times throughout Orenstein’s book that I felt like weeping. I can only imagine what God thinks as He sees this beautiful gift of sex, designed to thrill and satisfy, turned into an instrument of psychological torment.

As I read, my 7 year old daughter Sophia walked by. I had to put the book down and give her a big hug. I inwardly vowed to do all I could to protect her from such a horrific mess. Continue reading…

  • Margaret

    Excellent! Best I have read yet. Thank you for putting it in words to share with others!

  • A. D.

    I don’t read blogs very often so I’m especially glad that I read this post. True, I’m a girl, but this is something that applies to all of God’s children – basically, anyone who has been let in on the secret that every person ever alive is worth dying for to the perfect Dad who made us and treasures us all. I’ve been praying for a response that I could have toward what’s going on in our world today which would actually make a difference and bring honor to God and I think you’ve just voiced it. Thank you.

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“Look What the World Has Come to”

dreamstime_xs_52625128By Jesse Jost

Wherever you look, deterioration and disintegration are the natural order of things. The law of entropy is a brutal beast. With the near constant slide away from God that we see in our nations, churches, and relationships, it is easy to become cynical. In fact, it seems a badge of righteousness to be a prophet of doom, and bemoan the secularization of religious institutions, churches, and culture. It’s as if we feel our ability to highlight decay or trends toward liberalism is proof of our faithfulness.

But griping about moral decline is not a sign of godliness. Listen to any talk show, or coffee table chat, and you will hear rants about how bad things are getting, even from the most ungodly sources. It is not a righteous or godly thing to complain about the state of things. It is a human thing. Ever since we left Eden we long for “the good ol days,” (often glossing over the bad and exaggerating the good) and bemoan the inevitable slide towards degeneration.

When God made the world, we were assigned to be the caretakers of creation and in our rebellion, we made a horrendous mess: Endless violence, infanticide, rape, the oppression of women, slavery, the exploitation of the poor and weak, etc. There was every reason to despair.

But then something radical and unexpected happened. Continue reading…

  • Brian

    Very refreshing Jesse. It’s what I needed to hear this morning. It stops the mouth of the accuser.

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2016 Christmas Letter

fullsizerender-3Heidi here this year! (Can we all heave a big sigh of disappointment? I know, I’m not the one with the funnies coming out left and right. Hope you survive!)

Life through kids’ eyes is the best. When God walked the earth, He specifically welcomed children, and called us to have our eyes wide open, childlike, to seeing Him on the move around us and in us.

fullsizerender-4The other night, Sophia (7) stood by my bed and just started telling me the griefs weighing her heart down, and the ways she saw God more clearly through them. She misses our miscarried babies, Davey (2011) and Emmy (this summer), and Jesse’s grandma (2013). Emmy has been an especially difficult loss for her – for all of us! – because she was really hoping the baby would be her much-longed-for sister. But she said she has been learning to trust God more when she’s sad or afraid of loss. This conversation happened in a season when I have not been able to parent and disciple as much as I would like (morning sickness again), and God used it to show me that He is ultimately the One gently leading and guiding our children’s hearts. He is a good, good Father.

Most of the time, Sophia is a spunky ray of sunshine, busily experimenting with melodies on the piano and leading her little brothers in adventures, and these glimpses into her deeper thoughts aren’t common, so I treasure them. We are so enriched and comforted by her sympathetic heart. I’m 10 weeks pregnant now, in the thick of morning sickness, and Sophia says sweetly every day, “Aw, Mom, I hope you feel better really soon!”

img_6471Her brothers are no different. Elijah (4) often comes up and with those great big, soulful, long-lashed eyes, he says, “Can I do anything for you, Mom?” Sometimes he does, sometimes he forgets his good intentions and runs off in merry play. He is eager to do workbooks like the big kids, make jokes like the big kids, and stay up with the big kids, and yet when he gets time with just me and/or Jesse, he is beyond delighted and wants to know if the big kids can go away again so he can have another date with us. He’s such a sweet kid. And at devotion times when the others get scolded for being noisy, he chimes, “I want to know God better, Mom! I’m listening.” Hand him a halo, somebody.

img_6463John-Michael (9) is a champ. His brain never stops, which means his chores regularly take longer than I thought humanly possible, and his bath room visits (he’s going to hate me for this when he’s older) are record-breaking in length because he reads tomes in there. I know, you’re thinking, “ban the books!” Sometimes I do. And sometimes I let it go because I know how much a mind like his loves to eat up ideas. I’m married to a man whose mind works like that. An endless trail of activities, inventions, money-earning schemes, and learning opportunities follow J-M everywhere, some completed, some forgotten. Much of it is self-guided, and I don’t say this out of pride (“oh, look at my self-taught child!”). On the contrary, it’s because he tires me out. I’m thankful he loves to learn, and is passing on that passion to his siblings. And really, when his brain is directed to what’s at hand, he’s a very reliable boy. I lean hard on him, and see so much of his dad in him in the way that he looks out for his siblings, takes on responsibility at home, and wants God.

img_6451We’re in the middle of a cold snap (-20s C), and I’m beginning to wonder if I can order a hamster wheel sized for a toddler. Because I have a hilarious, exuberant 2 year old named Justin who hasn’t been out to play for over a week, and needs a safe outlet for his energy. Jumping off couch arms doesn’t count as safe in my books. Or running down the hall with his head back, Eric Liddell-style. It worked for Eric Liddell, but he had better coordination. The other day J-M was watching Justin getting all wild, tried to calm him down, and shouted, “Dad, you’d better get the van ready! Justin’s going to need the hospital soon.”

Justin’s face is as lively as his little body. His delivery of statements or “jokes” makes us all laugh, which makes him giggle and try again for the same reaction. He asks a lot of questions about the how’s and why’s of things, and offers much commentary on life as well, with sage nods of knowingness. There are many times I look at him and thank God for this kid who makes us want more kids.

Of course, I don’t have to look far for inspiration on the kid-making front… (whistle) Enter Jesse. What a dude. What a guy. What a real man! I tell him he’s my dream: tall, dark, and handsome, and he says ever so humbly, “Well, at least I know I’m one of those.” Continue reading…

  • Norma

    Enjoyed your letter so much–even though I don’t know you (yet)! Look forward to meeting you at Taber CWC in a couple of weeks!

  • Nancy Bowman

    Oh, Heidi! Bless you for your open-hearted, charitable honesty! May you just keep on growing in godliness, you lovely woman of God. Thanks for this letter. You have plenty of laughs to share!
    Love,
    Nancy.

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Is God Qualified For the Job?

dreamstime_xs_65772136By Jesse Jost

Imagine that the position of Ruler of the Universe became available. If you got the job what would be your first act? Stamping out ISIS? Eradicating cancer? Ending world hunger? With unlimited power at your disposal, these things should be easy to accomplish before moving on to eliminate hate and bigotry, right?

Even with all the wildly divergent beliefs and religions, if there is one thing we humans can agree on, this world is a messed up place. There is a deep groaning that things are not the way they are supposed to be. It often seems like God, considering the endless resources He must have at His disposal, could be doing a better job of cleaning up the mess and doing more to intervene and stop the bleeding. Is this really the case?

A defining attribute of humanity is our overweening presumption that we could be doing a better job than the person who is actually doing the job. With absolutely no comprehension of the finer details or the options that are really available, we feel full confidence to criticize and complain about how a job is being handled. From the decisions of the church board, to the executive orders of the president, we seem sure that were we in that position, we would have accomplished more, and done it better.

Are you more qualified for the job of God? It seems a foolish question to ask, but I raise it because so many of our attitudes and actions seem to reflect that, deep down, we really believe we know better than God.

Before we look at how qualified you are for the position of Supreme Potentate, let’s look at how well you’ve handled the job of being Human. Ever longed for something that you thought would make you happy, only to find it brought heartbreak instead? Have you ever uttered words that you have regretted? Ever look back and are grateful that you didn’t have the power or opportunity to act on the ill will that violent anger stirred? How often do you stick to your own goals and standards? Ever find yourself doing something you swore you never would? Continue reading…

  • Jesse

    Thank you for taking the time to write this Jesse.

  • Nancy Bowman

    Well said, Jesse! It encourages; it exhorts; and it exposes lies and cherished, vain imaginings about who we think we are. This is useful in the kingdom. May it bear much fruit. ~N.

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Appetizers from Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”

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By Jesse Jost

In the late 1940s, A.W. Tozer was riding a train and, as was his habit, in prayer and meditation. He started recording his thoughts and by the time the train arrived the first draft of “The Pursuit of God” was written.

Tozer was a man who knew the ecstasy of genuine communion with God. Aides at his church would often hear Tozer alone in his office moaning in wonder and adoration of God. When Tozer wrote of God He wrote with a reverent familiarity few have acquired this side of heaven.

I read “The Pursuit of God” a couple times in my late teens/early twenties and I remember being so impacted by it. I finally revisited it this week. Wow, what a power packed, spiritually challenging and inspiring book.

Whether you have read this book before or have never heard of it, I urge you to read it. Free kindle copies are available on amazon and it’s only 128 pages.

Below are some of the main ideas I condensed from each chapter, along with key excerpts from several chapters to give you a taste how potent Tozer’s pen really was. I hope you are encouraged to pursue God with more vigor and that you find your appetite for Him aroused by Tozer’s thoughts

If you want more information on Tozer’s life I have written some notes HERE that I gleaned from a biography called “A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer” Written by Lyle W Dorsett

Chapter 1: Following hard after God

Don’t rest content with academic “knowledge of God” pursue the intimate, soul delighting experiential knowledge of God. Knowing God in this way is eternal life, it is what Paul valued more than anything else.

“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in and out of season, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.”

“I want to deliberately encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is the deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.’ Continue reading…

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