One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh --
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach --
But I am not ordained to preach.
Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)
Sexual sin once robbed your heart of something very precious. Every little boy sees the fight for right and desires to be an agent of good, to be the good guy who saves the day.Every little boy has dreams and visions of one day being someone great and doing something great, but sexual sin often steals these dreams away. God wants to recapture those dreams and restore them for God's man on the battlefield. Victory restores these hopes and renews the dreams that were once vaporized in the midst of sexual sin.The dream lives! Now, with a sanctified heart, you know what you can do in Him. You feel it. You're a fighting machine, confident as you approach any battle. You've proven that your Command Officer can trust you with much as long as you abide in Him. And He's proven that you can trust Him to supply all you need in battle.Battles test and transform soldiers, and this test revealed the depth of your love for Him. You're stronger, and you're changed. God is a strong God, and He wants strong, confident soldiers in His kingdom who are good in a fight, even when facing daunting odds that seem overwhelming.Taken from Every Man's Challenge, pp 33-34.
we discovered that it is possible to have perfect intent. But how does one achieve such? How does one become a slave to righteousness?
Let me offer this illustration. A man wakes up every morning to spider webs in the corner. Day in and day out, he sweeps out the webs. One morning, he wakes up to the realization, “why don't I just kill the spider?”
That's what sanctification is about. It is an instantaneous realization that the way that you have been living your life has been ok but that there is a better way. Sanctification is a change of your intent
. Sanctification is God killing that selfish part of you, setting you aside for His purposes, no longer living for yourself.
Sanctification is a crisis experience but one that grows. Even though he may have killed the spider, he needs to kill any other spiders that move in or other spider webs will appear. This is congruent with the teaching of "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
Now, you say, "that leads to a danger of a works based salvation." However, James says that faith without works is dead.
In Nehemiah, he told them to work and pray while they built the wall.
A proper understanding of sanctification realizes that any good that a Christian does is only done through the power of the Holy Spirit
This crisis experience of sanctification is a change of the intent
of the heart. God takes that heart that is bent towards self and sin and turns it to pleasing Him, much like your son who is getting you a drink of water. He wanted to please you rather than himself.
In my life, I was saved at six by my mother's aid. At age 17, I was in Las Vegas and watched a man put money into a slot machine. He looked so sad. I remember God distinctly telling me, “do you want a happy Christian life or a sad one?” That was my sanctification experience. That evening, all alone, I prayed that God would use me however he wanted and that I would never turn my back on him. My life after 17 was much different than it was before.
I have had experiences where I hear Satan's voice, “see? All that Christian stuff isn't worth the trouble. Just give it up!” When that happens, I am able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to remind myself that I had a sanctification experience where I vowed I would never give up on my relationship with God.
My sanctification is entire because not only do I have all of the Holy Spirit (His Spirit is given without measure)
but He has all of me as well! This sanctification is exhibited by the FRUIT of the Holy Spirit. That means once I became sanctified, I received all of the fruit but it was not fully mature at that point. My sanctification needs to continue to grow. The different fruit may grow at different rates but it is all there. My goal, with God's help, is to have all the fruit mature in my life.
So, I still sin. But when I do, I have an Advocate with the Father.
I stop, confess, and move on. I don't beat myself up nor allow Satan to drag me down. The closer I stay to God's Holy Spirit, the shorter my fall when I sin.
Now you know what to do. What are you gonna do?
While you're deciding, that spider is building more webs...BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Jesus tells us that we are to be perfect as He is perfect.
However, being human, it is impossible to be perfect. What do you think Jesus meant by this statement?
Here is a good example of perfection. Maybe it is close to what Jesus was meaning. A piano student practices day and nite on a musical piece until he can execute it without error. His piano teacher would say that he plays “perfectly.”
However, if he hasn't moved on and is still playing the same piece a year later, he is no longer perfect.
Another example. Let's say that you have a son with whom you are gardening in the hot sun. He sees you sweating and obviously becoming overheated. He thinks to himself, “I'll go get dad a glass of water.” He goes into the house and gets a dirty cup out of the sink and fills it with lukewarm water out of the tap without any ice. He carries it by the rim so that his grubby fingers get into the water. He joyfully brings it to you, knowing that it will help your thirst. When he gives it to you, you look inside the glass and notice that the water is not very clean. What do you do at that point? Do you chastise him for bringing you a glass of dirty water? Nope. A loving father would praise his son and gladly accept the water and drink it down. You have a perfect son.
His intent was to please you.
The concept of intent is the key in both of these illustrations. You know the intent of your heart (and so does God). Let's say you do something that you think could be very helpful but someone misunderstands your intent
and believes that you are not a very good Christian.
For example, a Christian brother chastises you for going into a bar. Your intent
, when you went into that bar, was to talk to your friend that is drunk in there. You went in there to take him home and prevent him from further harming himself. Now the Christian chastising you does not know your intent.
However, you do and moreover, God knows. Therefore, you are sinless (perfect)
in regard to your going into a bar, a place where many people would say that a Christian should not be. So, as God told Samuel of David, God looks on the heart.
God looks at our intent.
is to be judged by God only. That's why we have a hard time with this concept, we are looking through human eyes. Some Christians have been taught that “we sin every day in thought, word or deed.” Nevertheless, it is possible to go for a while without sinning. However, it is VERY RARE. If a Christian looks in the mirror and says, “I didn't sin today!” then he just sinned. If you go without sinning, you don't realize it. You don't realize it because you don't focus on sin but on God's righteousness and God's ability to empower you to live a victorious Christian life.
We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.
You used to offer your body to impurity and wickedness. However, now, you offer your body as a slave to righteousness which leads to holiness.
So, how do you offer yourself to righteousness?Tomorrow,
we will discover that together.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
If you remember from yesterday's post,
we were discussing a man who decided that he found a woman who would fulfill his fantasy.
His fantasy was one that he played over and over in his mind, just like the movie he played over and over on his DVD player. In this fantasy, he would follow a woman who just purchased lingerie. As she walked from the store, she would turn and look back in a flirtatious manner on her way to her car and then he would follow her. He imagined she would drive to a secluded area where she had kept her lingerie on from trying it on in the store and then they would have a sexual encounter in his van or even better, she would drive to a motel and they would share a room.
Do you see how distorted this man's reasoning is? What woman, in reality, would actually do what he is fantasizing? But that's what happens to men who view porn, they think all women are ready for sex when a man wants to have sex.
He spotted this particular woman and realized that he had seen her several times before in the mall. On one occasion, he thought she had actually looked at him and smiled. That meant that she wanted to have a liaison with him.
He followed her down the mallway. She would turn and look back every so often and he felt encouraged. He knew his fantasy was going to be a reality!
What this man did not know because his reasoning was so out of whack is that the woman was fearful. She was looking back because she was watching him. She didn't like that he was following her.
She went to her car quickly (which he interpreted that she was so excited that she wanted to get to their encounter rapidly) and he got into his car and followed her as she drove away. She drove a rather circuitous route and he was closely following her, fantasizing about what was about to happen.
The next thing he knew, he was awakened from his fantasized induced stupor when she pulled into a parking space at the local police station.
This man was fortunate, he had enough reasoning to realize he was about to be in trouble. He quickly drove off and went home. That was when he finally understood that he needed help. That's when he called a counselor to get help.
I won't get into this man's counseling as that is not the point of these posts; however, suffice it to say this was a turning point for him. He decided he needed to change. He was lucky. He wasn't charged with a crime. He could be sitting behind bars.
Do you catch the point of these two posts?
Pornography always takes. It never gives up. It is insidious. It ruins a man. It changes the way you think.
Dump your stash.
Stop watching "adult" programming.
Get rid of those movies.
Stop wasting time on the internet.
Ask your pastor for help.Be a real man.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Men who read and watch a lot of pornography have active imaginations and often live in a fantasy world. Pornography messes with a man's mind. His reasoning changes.
Men who are avid fans of pornography develop an unusual perspective on women. They view women as sex objects. They forget that woman have their own motives, ideas and plans. Many times women's motives, ideas and plans do not include men. A man with an addiction to pornography cannot understand the previous sentence.
These men cannot imagine that women are really not always "on the prowl" looking for sexual encounters. What these men forget is that almost all pornography is written and directed by men. Therefore, men who use pornography develop a perspective of women that women exist just for men's satisfaction. These men's minds have become programmed by the pornographers.
When men get this distorted perspective of women, they are prone to act out. They have fantasies and often want to do what they see on TV and the computer.
Let me tell about one man's reprehensible actions. This man had a fantasy that he would encounter a woman he did not know who would be wanting to have sex with him.
This man would spend a fair amount to time in the mall, sitting outside of women's clothing stores deciding which woman would be the one with whom he would have sex.
He saw a certain woman and decided that he found a woman who would fulfill his fantasy... (click here for part two)
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handled down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18-19
Change is not easy. It is a fierce battle. It can be difficult and discouraging.
Change often requires us to challenge the perspectives and rules which have sustained our family system for generations. The 'empty way of life' we are attempting to change was handed down from our parents and their parents before them and their parents before them. In a family committed to the 'don't talk' rule, for example, saying even a simple sentence may require overcoming distracting behaviors or other avoidance behaviors which have been refined over hundreds of years. Talking honestly to a parent or sibling may be breaking family rules that have lasted for generations.
The Good News is that we have been redeemed from the empty way of life handed down by our forefathers. Jesus redeemed us so that we can be free from this kind of bondage. We can learn to talk honestly . We can learn to experience our emotions. We can learn to trust genuinely. We can engage in life. We can love and be loved.
We live in a battle between the empty way of life passed down to us and the new life that has been provided for us. Living in solidarity with our new life in Christ is a daily struggle, but as we practice this way of life we break the vicious cycle of family dysfunction.
Lord, it isn't just me that I am trying to change.
I am up against generations of dysfunction.
An empty way of life has dominated my family for a long time.
It has been passed down to me.
No wonder it seems so hard to change.
I need your help, Lord.
Help me to find hope in your understanding of my struggle.
Help me to find hope in your gift of redemption.Amen.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian RecoveryBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Father in heaven, God of love, all I have and am is yours.
Grant that I may become a living sign of your compassion in this world.
Grant me the faith to live my life, always in the awareness of your loving presence.
Grant me zeal to serve without thought of reward, those to whom you send me.
Grant me charity to bear the burdens of my brothers and sisters.
Teach me to seek your Son’s face, in the last, the lost, and the least.
In whatever I undertake, may I seek above all things, to procure your glory, as far as I am able, and as you will require of me.
Strengthen me by your Holy Spirit, to follow Jesus by living the commitment to change I make this day.Amen.
This prayer can be found here.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This diagram is taken from the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
. It is often called The Duluth Model.
Even though it is not blatantly from a Christian or other faith tradition, it offers much for how men, in particular Christian men, should view marriage. I encourage you to download the pdf for this diagram. Just click on the wheel and you will receive that file.
A messed up marriage
is based on power and control. However, if you notice, a marvelous marriage is one of equality and respect. A Christian man will have a marriage that involves these eight factors:
1. Non-threatening behavior - your wife is comfortable in expressing herself
2. Respect - valuing your wife's opinion and being emotionally affirming
3. Trust & support - supporting your wife's goals
4. Honesty & accountability - communicating openly and truthfully to your wife
5. Responsible parenting - sharing parental responsibility
6. Shared responsibility - making family decisions together
7. Economic partnership - making financial decisions together
8. Negotiation & fairness - seeking mutually satisfactory compromises
What does the Bible say about marriage?
- Marriage should be honored
- God instituted and blessed marriage
- A man who loves his wife loves himself
- There is no fear in love
- If we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us
- Love is patient and kind
So, how does your marriage stack up to what the Bible says?
Do you honor your marriage?
Do you present a marital atmosphere of love and respect?
Are you patient and kind?BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This diagram is taken from the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
. It is often called The Duluth Model.
Even though it is not blatantly from a Christian or other faith tradition, it offers much for how men, in particular Christian men, should not view marriage. I encourage you to download the pdf for this diagram. Just click on the wheel and you will receive that file.
At the center of abusive relationships are POWER and CONTROL. Abusive people, especially abusive men, have a need, often without their conscious awareness, to be in control. When men try to control women, they resort to using power. They use power in these eight categories:
1. Intimidation - making your wife afraid of you
2. Emotional abuse - making your wife feel bad about herself
3. Isolation - limiting your wife's involvement with others
4. Minimizing, denying, blaming - not taking your wife's concerns seriously
5. Children - using your children to relay messages
6. Male privilege - acting like "master of the castle"
7. Economic abuse - making all the financial decisions
8. Coercion and threats - making threats
You may not be physically violent to your wife, but I invite you to consider the subtle ways in which you use power to control her. If you ask,
God's Holy Spirit will reveal to you where your are doing so. Remember God doesn't use force.
What does the Bible say about power and control?
- God has always had power & authority
- All power and authority is given to Jesus
- God's power is best displayed when we are weak
- As Christians, we have authority to overcome all the power of the enemy
- God's divine power has given us everything we need for holiness
- Salvation, glory and power belong to God
- Self-control, not the control of others, is a sign of a fruitful Christian
How do you compare to what the Bible says about power and control?
Do you have a marriage that displays God's power or your own power?
Do you try to control others or do you exhibit self-control?
Tomorrow, we will be discussing what a MARVELOUS MARRIAGE
looks like.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.