I am a fortunate man. The man in this picture is my father. Today is a special day for him.
Today is his 22nd birthday.
That doesn't mean that he is 22 years old. He is older than that but I would say that he has the inner attitude of someone who is 22 but with many more years of experience. You can see his youthful attitude in this picture.
Why do I admire my father more than any other man?
He lives as a consistent Christian witness. He makes being a Christian admirable and respectable. He makes Jesus attractive by living a consistent Christian life. There is no phoniness about him. He doesn't say one thing and do another.
He has been a pastor all of his adult life. He was my first pastor, my best pastor, and I was taught under his pastorate more than any other pastor in my life. He taught me proper theology, filled my life with a love for the things of God and a love for people. He taught me God's Word. He taught me that everyone is one heartbeat from eternity and needs to know about the salvation that God offers to every person thru Jesus.
He is a stark contrast to many pastors that I have met and the measure to whom I compare other pastors. He doesn't preach one thing and then live another.
For example, some pastors I have met seem to have the attitude "if you don't want to come to my church anymore, good luck to you." I recall, when someone would leave my father's church (which was very rare), how he would visit the person, asking them to return, he would pray with them about their decision and would privately agonize in prayer about the person's decision.
In other words, he recognizes that being a pastor is a serious calling. People's souls are on the line. A good pastor cannot be cavalier about people's relationship with Christ and His church. Being a pastor is serious business.
Before you think that my Dad is austere and overly serious, a real kill-joy, you also need to understand that he also gave me the ability to laugh. I have incorporated most of his jokes into my repertoire (and my sons have as well).
He helped me to see that a real Christian is a fun person.
A real Christian doesn't repel, but, rather, attracts people.
A real Christian is positive, even when things look bleak.
A real Christian is consistent.
A real Christian is a real man.
Thanks, Dad. You do well.
If you remember yesterday
, we were talking about a man who got started with pornography at age 8. This man started to act upon his fantasies from the porn that he had been viewing over the years.
One of his fantasies was that he would "accidentally" leave his zipper down and a woman would notice and become aroused. He would walk around in grocery stores with his zipper down, fantasizing about his inevitable sexual encounter. He was disappointed that no women noticed.
So, he developed another plan. He decided that he would sit in his car close to the exits of stores with his pants open and hope that women would see and become aroused. That didn't work either.
So, his next step would be to call women over to his car, "to ask a question" and hope that with his pants open, they would notice and want to be with him. He continued to be very disappointed.
He thought, because of his distorted perspective of women and sexuality, that what women were wanting to see was that he was sexually aroused, that he was erect, ready for sex. So, he would sit in his car and fantasize about a woman jumping into his car and they would drive to a secluded place for a sexual encounter.
One morning, while he was sitting in his car masturbating and fantasizing, he rolled his window down and asked a woman to come over because he had a "question" he wanted to ask her. She approached his car, looked at him and where his hand was and instantly became repulsed. She noted his license plate and called the police when she got home.
She made a report to the police and he was arrested and prosecuted. His prosecution was made public, his family was embarrassed and he lost his job.
As he finished his story, I asked, "have you gotten rid of your porn?" I knew his answer would be "no." I was right. The court wanted recommendations at the end of my assessment. My recommendations were necessary: no cable tv, no vcr/dvd player, no internet, no smart phone, no porn. If he was caught in possession of any of these items, he would go to prison. Also, he needed intensive counseling. If this failed, then he would need residential treatment.
However, what happened, when the judge found out that he had not given up his porn, he acted swiftly. This man immediately went to prison.
Wouldn't it be nice if all of my stories ended in a positive note?
This is a depressing, disgusting story.Porn wins."Behold, you have sinned against the LORD and be sure that your sin will find you out."BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I was tasked with assessing a man regarding his sexual addiction. Unfortunately, his tale was all too familiar.
As he sat across from me telling me that he is now considered a sexual offender and must register with the local police every time he moves, he started to unfold his story. He told me that he had found his Dad's stash of Playboy and Hustler magazines when he was just eight years old.
That is a bad sign... The earlier a man is exposed to porn the greater are his chances that he will become addicted and the greater are his chances of getting into legal trouble.
The more he looked at porn, the more he wanted to look at porn. (Interesting cycle, don't you think?) The more he looked at porn, the more he fantasized about doing what he was watching on the porn movies.
The more he watched porn, the less developed his social skills became. This happens because porn causes a man to be selfish and just think about his own pleasure. Friendships are unnecessary. Girls are unnecessary because the girls in porn movies and magazines are always accessible and there for a man's pleasure.
It's a terrible cycle that entraps a man. He wants to approach girls but fears rejection. He wants to do the things he fantasizes about but he fears she will say no. Finally, his isolation led him to frustration and he decided he would act upon some of his fantasies.
A really weird thing about men addicted to porn is that they think that women are turned on by seeing male genitalia. (I'm told by my wife that this is not true.) The porn that men watch gives a terribly distorted perspective of sexuality. Women are more attracted to an intimate relationship than the male physique.
Nevertheless, this man started to act upon his fantasies... (continued)
"When I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia."
2 Corinthians 2:12-13
Paul was a missionary writing to a congregation that had mixed feelings about his ministry. Under these circumstances we might reasonably expect him to defend himself. We might expect him to say 'Things are going great! Open doors! Packed stadiums! Now on several continents! Soon on satellite to the whole planet!" But he doesn't say that. He tells the truth. "There was an open door, but I had no peace of mind". Paul chooses to do honest, straight, appropriate, risky self-disclosure. "I was anxious and lonely and it effected my ability to work. I could not minister to others because I was too needy." Paul rejects the 'superstar' or 'hero' model for ministry. "I can't do this alone," he was saying, "I need Titus".
Like Paul, we have limits in our work and ministry. God does not ask us to be superheros. We may wish for this out of a deep need for approval, but it is not what God asks of us. Like Paul, we will have open doors that we will not be able to respond to because we are too tired, or too anxious, or too lonely. It is part of the reality of being human. God understands these kinds of limits.
Lord, I want to do it all.
I want to be a superhero.
But I am so limited.
Give me the grace to be honest.
Give me the courage to admit my loneliness and anxiety.
Give me the courage to admit my exhaustion.
Give me the grace to be human.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
Will she walk slowly
Or will she come at all
I can't believe that I was watching
Can't believe I made the call
I can't get a handle on my thoughts now
Guess I've already made my mind
He's a soldier in my battle
I'm the king with too much time
Will she wear that black dress
Will she wear that black dress
As holy as the night
As holy as I want to feel
I want to feel all right
What if she is angry
I know that we're both scared
Do I look her in the eye or do I even dare to care
I'm drowning in desire
I''ve been good for so long
I know I've got no right now
But no one can tell me that I'm wrong
Will she wear that black dress
Will she wear that black dress
As holy as the night
As holy as I want to feel
I want to feel all right
Maybe I'll be good
I could be gone when she gets here
I've still got a chance to make this one all right
My temptation's on the stairway
My temptation's at the door
My temptation is before me
She is standing before me in that black dress
This song is about King David's temptation with Bathsheba. Click here
to see the Normals performing this song live on YouTube.
If you remember from yesterday’s post
, I left you with me in the Amazon Jungle with five girls. I was jealous and I was not very cordial on this trip after jealousy set in.
Sometime on the trip, I don’t know if it was at the hospital or on the trip back, I realized how stupid and selfish I was. A thought hit me, “You are such a lucky man. You have a wonderful, beautiful wife and two marvelous sons. Why in the world do you care about being alone with a high school girl?” Part of the answer was I was in a competition with the Pastor. Because he was with the prettiest girl, he was more of a man than I was (or so my ego wanted me to believe).
The TOURNAMENT MALE syndrome works that way. My ego was more important to me than anything. I got jealous.
When I got back to our apartment in Quito, after the boys were in bed, I told Karyn about this experience. I told her how I felt and what I discovered about myself. Karyn said, “yes, I’ve seen that about you and have been praying that God would talk to you about that.”
That just blew me away. My wonderful, patient, loving wife chose to let God speak to me about my TOURNAMENT MALE syndrome in His timing rather than confront me directly in her timing.
I tell you this story, passing on what I learned, hoping it will help you:
- It’s important to have someone in your life who is willing to pray for you
- It’s important to be honest with yourself, God and someone who loves you
- It’s important to listen to God’s Holy Spirit. He will lovingly confront you about things that need to change in your life. Let God empower you to keep your ego in check.
Are you a TOURNAMENT MALE? Every man is. So, ask God to take you out of the tourney and put you into His hands where you can do what He wants and not be ruled by your jealousy and ego. BE HOLY.BE A MAN. My thanks to Dr Don Joy for this concept of the Tournament Male
Men have within them this desire to always be looking for more.
That could be one of the definitions of a TOURNAMENT MALE. Men have unusual abilities. For example, a room can be full of men, yet some will attempt to monopolize the only woman in the room.
Men will be talking, many of them with their backs to the door. A woman will enter the room and the men with their backs to the door will know, I don’t know how we know, but we know when a woman has entered the room. Maybe we pick up on the observations of the other men that saw her first. I don’t know how, but we men have this ability.
A few moments after the woman enters, men will do one and/or two things:
1) they will check her out, comparing her to their own wife or girlfriend, or if single, compare here with old girlfriends, and/or 2) they will approach her and start talking to her.
There will ALWAYS be more than one man who chooses option #2. Hence, the tournament is on…
Let me share with you my experience with being a TOURNAMENT MALE.
Before having been married for 10 years, we moved to Ecuador to counsel missionaries. I was excited being on the mission field with a young wife and two sons.
My office was in an English-speaking church in Quito. On one occasion, we had a group of about six high school girls visit us from America and the Pastor and I took them to the hospital in Shell Mera. We stopped at one very picturesque part of the Amazon Jungle where there was this waterfall that fed into the Amazon River. The Pastor and the most attractive girl took off down the trail (she had been sitting in the front with him and they had been carrying on quite a conversation) and I waited back at the van and walked the remaining girls down the trail. All the way down the trail, I was brooding. I was thinking to myself, “why does he get to take off all alone with the prettiest girl and I’m stuck with these five?” (continued)
If you remember from yesterday's post,
I was at a Victoria's Secret being a dutiful husband and I was surrounded by three beautiful young women while Karyn was trying on clothes.
Well, my ego got the best of me. I started thinking, "these girls think I'm hot. They're talking to me because they really like me." I found myself paying more attention to them while they were flirting with me (or I thought they were flirting with me). Then it hit me. "What in the world am I doing? I'm almost old enough to be these young ladies' father!" Then Karyn came out of the dressing room and paid for some clothes she was buying.
When we got outside, I confessed to Karyn what had happened. She simply said, "of course those sales clerks were talking to you, you're safe. You're much older than them." Well, I'll tell you, my ego was instantly deflated. We continued our conversation and Karyn said that the clerks were occupying me so that she would spend more time shopping.
Why do I share this story with you?
Well I learned a few things about temptation:
- I said to myself before going into the store, "I can handle this." God says, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall."
Knowing this was a past temptation, it would have been wise to ask God for strength before entering. It might have been better to just not go into that store.
- I have a big ego and I need to keep it in check. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
If I stay humble, God will give me more grace.
- Temptation changes. I thought that I had the sin of lust conquered. However, this temptation played into something different. I was on my guard for lust but not on guard for my ego.
- My ego got in the way of my ability to think clearly. These young ladies were just doing what they had been taught. "Keep the hubby happy and his wife will buy more stuff." I was being played and never realized it.So, my conclusion, my goal of these two posts is this:
Do you let your ego go unchecked?
Do you humble yourself so that God can give you more grace?
If you think that you have temptation conquered, get ready. You will find yourself tempted in ways that you haven't been considering.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Early in our marriage, we would receive Victoria's Secret catalogs in the mail. Even back then, these catalogs were pornography. They've only gotten worse.
Nevertheless, I told Karyn about the draw those catalogs had for me and I asked her to not have those in the house, especially since we were raising boys.
By starving my eyes from those catalogs, they came to the point of having less attraction for me. Over time, by telling Karyn about the things that turned me on, she was able to help me. We would talk about those things that were tempting. It was liberating to tell her and she would continue to love me and shield me from those things that held my attraction.
After the boys were raised, I accompanied her to a Victoria's Secret store where she was trying on some clothes. Being the dutiful husband, I went with her. I thought, "I've gotten past that Victoria's Secret temptation. I can handle this now."
While I was sitting there, minding my own business and trying not to look at the images of scantily clad women on the walls, a very attractive young lady walked up to me and started talking to me. I was polite and talked with her. Then another attractive young lady and then another. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by three very attractive young ladies (continued).
Temptation can come when you least expect it. We have talked earlier about how to resist temptation and how to anticipate temptation. We have also talked about a young man intentionally using something holy to sin as well as tempt others to sin.
It is clear that temptation occurs and it is also clear that temptation itself is not sin. If you remember, Jesus was tempted and He was sinless.
Temptation can come out of nowhere and it is important to keep one's head so that temptation does not take you down. We would like to think temptation cannot occur during a Holy event. However, those times are not devoid of opportunities to be tempted.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
The service was over, and I was sitting in a pew talking to someone in another pew, preparing to leave. Karyn had gone to get the boys because I was busy talking as usual. The next thing I knew, an attractive blond woman came over and sat next to me and started talking to me. That was OK but then, she put her hand on my leg.
My radar went up because I kinda liked it. There were very few people around. However, a thought came into my head. "Get outta there, now!" And that's what I did.
So, what do I do now? This woman attends this church. How can I prevent this temptation from occurring again?
The answer is honesty.Later that day, I had an honest conversation with Karyn. I told her what happened and how I felt. She had a great suggestion for helping me with this temptation. She said, "If I see this woman talking to you after church, I will send one of the boys to come and get you." And that's what happened. The woman approached me the next week and one of my boys came running over to me and said, "hey, Mom needs you!" I excused myself and took off with my son.
Do you know what happened after that? The woman didn't approach me anymore. Temptation is not always avoided this easily, but this time one simple suggestion worked marvelously.
There are important principles to remember here.
- Don't toy with temptation.
- Don't think that you can handle temptation by yourself.
- Be honest about your temptation to someone you can trust who can help you not fall prey to sin.
- Ask God to give you His wisdom so that you can recognize when temptation comes along.
BE A MAN.