Actor Sean Astin has had a long-standing career in Hollywood
. From starring as Mikey in “The Goonies” to his role as Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, he has entertained and inspired audiences for decades. In a new interview
with Beliefnet’s John W. Kennedy, Astin recently discussed his career, his faith and a Christian movie he recently filmed called “Mom’s Night Out.”
It may come as a surprise to some that Astin, who has said in the past that he doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, is religious. But a close look at his career and his public comments corroborate this very fact. In his discussion with Kennedy, Astin described his faith journey in detail and didn’t hesitate to call himself a faithful Christian.
He detailed his fascinating faith journey — one that encapsulated experiences with Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, agnosticism and Protestantism (they all touched him in some way). Today, Astin is a Lutheran, having been officially baptized along with his wife at a church in Indiana. But growing up, his stepfather, actor John Astin, was a Buddhist and his birth father was Jewish.
Beyond that, his mother, actress Patty Duke, is a Catholic — at least nominally. When Kennedy asked about this dynamic, the entertainer was candid
Well, it depends on when you ask her and who you ask. I think today she would probably consider herself a Catholic. She’s had a really kind of tortured relationship [with the Church]. I [remember] when my sister died. There’s this group of nuns that lived in a convent nearby. She insisted that they be there. So, you know, when you talk about self identifying versus how people practice versus the culture versus all these kinds of things I think my mom is a feels very comfortable with her Catholicism.”
In a previous interview with Sherry Huang (also published on Beliefnet), Astin was asked about his favorite prayer. He cited a Democratic National Committee member named Ron Dugger, who had once set up a meeting between the actor and then-Sen. John Kerry at a time during which Astin was politically active.
“There’s a guy named Rob Dugger who was a very senior member of the Democratic National Committee. [A]fter I’d met with John Kerry, [Rob had] arranged a meeting and this [was] at the height of my trying to grapple with what I was able to accomplish–and not–on a political level,”Astin told Huang
. “We just had this conversation, and I asked him that question. [H]e said every morning he wakes up and he says a prayer, ‘Allow me to be an instrument of Your will.’”
Astin said the prayer really resonated with him and that he has uttered it “a few thousand times” since first hearing it.
It seems the actor has put his money where his mouth is, too. While he generally doesn’t shout his faith from mountaintops, Astin actively participates in projects, both in the faith and Hollywood realms, that tout positive, Christian values.
Consider the fact that he provided the voice of Matthew in the “Truth and Life Dramatized Audio New Testament” a few years back. Catholic Online described the project
as “a dramatic and powerful audio recording of the Bible that brings the Word to life using the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (RSV-CE) text.”
“For people who care about the Bible as revealed truth, this is a gateway to make it accessible to them and I’m proud to be associated with that,” he told the outlet of the project.
Astin also shared a personal story in the 2011 interview
, showcasing the importance that the Bible — and this particular project — have in his own life:
“The other day I was with my daughter and she has a middle school chapel service. When she got out, I was asking her questions about the passages they were looking at. At first she couldn’t remember so I downloaded a Bible program onto my iPhone and we were scrolling through it, just riding in the car!
“If you pass muster and people make it to a second CD, you know it’s really important to them. When anyone is listening, you are purveying revealed truth to people and it carries a real responsibility. You have to decide whether you want to do that whether you want participate in that.
“I don’t actually walk around wearing my faith on my sleeve or anything but I went to Catholic school for three years. You get to certain passages about the Last Supper or the Crucifixion and I’ve heard them a lot in church and they were spoken by a priest.
“And now the words that were being uttered by a priest to a congregation are coming through my eyes and sound! These massive ideas are being poured out and it gives you goose bumps sometimes. You’re portraying revealed truth!”
All this considered, his new movie, too, is faith-based in nature. “Mom’s Night Out
” is described as “an endearing, true-to-life family comedy.” It centers upon a few mothers who want to go out for an evening of fun. With their husbands left to care for the kids, chaos and comedy unfold.
The film, set to be released in 2014, is produced by Andrew and Jon Erwin, the filmmaking brothers who also brought forth the successful pro-life movie “October Baby
.” For more about Astin, be sure to visit his official website
For the original post, go to: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/07/hollywood-actor-opens-up-about-his-christian-faith/
Yesterday, we noted three important factors to consider in regard to those who have a history of molesting children:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
I have been professionally counseling men for 30+ years. Many of them for their sexual behavior and many of them appeared to be sincerely Christian men. Yet there have been some that have convinced me that they were totally innocent, that the charges were trumped up and that they were unjustly charged. However, upon further investigation, I found out that they were lying thru their teeth. My experience has taught me a few things about safeguards. Let me share them with you:
First of all, most churches do this but I have run across some that don't: Every person who works in the church nursery, teaches children's Sunday School/Vacation Bible School, and/or is a Church Camp counselor, needs to sign an agreement to have his* background checked by the local authorities and the FBI. In fact, anyone who has repeated contact with children in any capacity in regard to a church function needs to have a background check. If you have someone who is working with children and didn't divulge his background, then that person needs to be confronted and the pastor needs to understand why the person felt a need to hide such information. This could very well be a legal as well as moral and spiritual issue.
Yet, a person who is truly desirous to fellowship in a church where there are children present, will talk to the pastor about his past before attending church. It would be advisable for the pastor to let the person know that the board will be informed of his past and that safeguards will be in place. Here are some recommended safeguards:
1. The person will sit up front, to the side, in the congregation. That way the only people he can see are the people on the stage. Also, it keeps him in full visibility of the congregation and pastor.
2. Several men will be appointed to keep an eye on the person. If he gets up to leave for any reason, he will be accompanied by at least one other man.
3. He will never enter the bathroom alone. In fact, it is advisable that the church appoint individuals to make rounds in the church bathrooms and other private/secluded areas of the church before, during and after the service from the time the church is unlocked until it is locked again.
4. He does not need to attend services when children will be up front on the stage for extended periods of time. If he is there, he needs to excuse himself until the children are not up front, or he should just go home.
5. He needs to be active in the Men's Ministry of the church and be accountable to that group of men.
6. He needs to meet with the pastor regularly for counsel, feedback and accountability.
7. He should never be allowed to work with children, in any capacity.8. He should not be Facebook friends, or any other social media including texting with any minors in the church.So, it is possible to allow a person with a criminal history of sexually abusing children to worship and fellowship in the church but he must be transparent and be willing to follow the recommended safeguards. If he cannot, then the church can go to where he is and fellowship with him at his home or a neutral location. Or the obvious..... If you really want to minister to these individuals, consider a service that is for adults only... No minors allowed... Spaced far enough from the other service so that there is time to come and go without interacting with minors.We don't need to write off these men, they need to grow spiritually as well. And you know, it will decrease child molestation in the long run too... *The word "his" will be used throughout. The majority of those who sexually offend are males but that does not mean that the church should give an automatic pass to women. Women need to have background checks as well.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Loving others: I admit that my experience of loving everyone is not just difficult but impossible — at least, loving everyone the way Jesus loves everyone (and, of course, my theology informs me that Jesus actually does love everyone and desires their full redemption, cf. John 3:16; 12:32). I don’t know everyone: How, then, can I love everyone? Or perhaps loving everyone is not predicated upon knowing them. Can I love people whom I don’t even know? Am I not, then, in love with love — or, perhaps, in love with the idea of love?
God can love everyone because He knows everyone; and His love for them is not objected-oriented. In other words, God doesn’t love people because of any inherent redeeming value or character trait within them. For example, if He loved me because I give away all my wealth to the poor (and I don’t), then if I stopped giving away my money to the poor then He would have cause to cease loving me. God’s love for us is derived from His nature and not ours. (Trust me when I admit that this is a good trait! If God’s love for us was object-oriented then He would love none of us — ever.) But Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is akin to the first: “You shall love your neighbor [which just so happens to be everyone with whom we come into contact, cf. Luke 10:30-37] as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). If I am to possess the kind of love for people that God holds, how is that going to happen?
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
The quote from Merton above comes from his work No Man is an Island, and I think it represents a God-kind of love. Before each of us comes to trust in Christ we are already perfectly loved by God. He does not require that we change who we are as individuals in order to first receive that love. God does not call me to the behaviors and characteristics of Billy Graham or John Wesley or Thomas Aquinas or the apostle Paul. God perfectly loves me, as I am, and longs for me to be the me He created me to be. However, that “me” is also being conformed to the perfect likeness of God’s Son Jesus (Rom. 8:29). The “me” I’m going to be is not yet complete.
I think this is always healthy to keep in mind with regard to everyone else we encounter as well. Let’s consider those with whom we worship Christ each Sunday. The “them” they are going to be is not yet complete. God will also conform them to the image of Christ; they are becoming what they will be, even though what they will be is not yet who they are presently. If you need a moment to grab for the Aleeve, then go and come back for the final paragraph.
I have not yet mastered how to love everyone perfectly, mostly because I have not yet arrived at the final, perfect “me.” Loving people takes hard, very intentional work, and it is just as much a discipline of contemplation as it is a form of activity. Thomas Merton says of Aquinas that there is “in practice no contradiction between contemplation and activity,” and I agree with them both. When we consider who is our “neighbor” — whom we are called to both love and serve — this takes contemplation, introspection, and a determined willingness to act on their behalf; and this labor of love, if you will, must be stubborn to completion. In other words, we cannot give up the effort merely because the person does not reciprocate or appreciate such labor. We must remember that, though God loves everyone perfectly, that love is, largely, underappreciated or outright rejected. Still He loves, stubbornly, graciously. Lord, make us imitators!
This post was written by William W. Birch. For the original post, go to: http://willandgraced.tumblr.com/post/58414919448/loving-everyone-is-impossibleBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Let me tell you a tale of three pastors. All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
One pastor was talking about how the Military creates dependency. "In the military, you don't have to make any decisions, all decisions are made for you, you just obey orders. They feed you, house you, raise you into a fighting machine. They tell you where to live and who to make friends with." (Just in case you're wondering, no, this pastor has never served in the military, although he has had numerous military folks in his congregation.) Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his first church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. (He is well within the top 1% of financial earners in his church. To his credit he does tithe his salary.) His denomination tells him when to move to another church. Does that sound independent to you?
Another pastor was talking about how the new generation of churches will be smaller and transient with bi-vocational pastors. This pastor is a good scholar. He has researched trends in the church and realizes that is what he needs to be training the next generation of pastors to do. Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. His church isn't a mega-church by any standards but it is a good sized, medium church. He remarked the other day, "I haven't mowed a yard in years. People from the church come over and mow my yard (actually the yard of the parsonage where he lives that the church provides for him as part of his salary package)." Does that sound bi-vocational to you?
Another pastor, now at the end of his ministry due to his age, reflected with me regarding his life as a minister. He never had a church of over 250. He accepted meager salaries in spite of having seven children. He told me stories about God's provision: coats for his children that suddenly appeared on the doorstep one frigid winter morning, receiving "blue milk" and cheese from the local dairy, having an abundance of fresh farms eggs from an unnamed person in the community, working side-by-side with parishioners in painting and refurbishing the church (and telling of the wonderful theological truths and friendships that occurred during these times), caring for the church building by cleaning toilets, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, etc. Also, he never had a parsonage. Every home he lived in he either rented or owned (ironically, now at a ripe old age, on his meager salary, he owns several homes and they are rented by pastors or parishioners of his former churches). Each of these homes, he cared for in painting, refurbishing, caring for the lawn and shoveling snow. (Oh, that reminds me, he shoveled the snow at his churches. He wanted his church to be welcoming even during bad weather.) He stated he would never cancel church. "What if someone found their way to the church during bad weather only to find the doors locked? What if that was the time that they decided they needed Jesus? If even only one person showed up, I still had church." He NEVER wanted to count on the church to take care of him. He told me that he knew that he was called to be a pastor and in doing a pastor's work, he KNEW that God would take care of him. His salary was just to pay what expenses that he had as he never went into debt, owing no man anything.
Like I said in the first paragraph, three pastors: All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
BE A MAN.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick…So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. (Luke 9:1, 6)
Now this is just extraordinary—Jesus has absolutely no need to be the center of the action. He sends his friends out to do the very things he does; he gives them a major role in his campaign. “You go do it. Do everything you see me doing.” This is humble and this is extraordinarily generous; Jesus is absolutely openhanded with his kingdom. There is no need for the whole thing to be always about him. He is absolutely delighted to share his kingdom with us. He later says, “Don’t be afraid little ones your father is delighted to give you the kingdom.”
Most men get power and then crave more; as their stars rise they can’t bear to have others in the spotlight; they typically abuse the power they have; and in the end, it winds up crushing them and everyone around them. You recall the expression “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It was a lesson learned through the long soiled history of men and power. But then we have Jesus, who walks right through the snares as if they weren’t even there, handling immense power with casual grace.This post is excerpted from the book, The Utter Relief of Holiness, by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It’s happened to most of us. We’re cruising down the street, singing along to Justin Bieber’s sweet new jam when all of the sudden, some imbecile swerves in front of us and cuts us off. Not only does this give our hearts a shock, it usually unleashes a little monster we like to call “road rage.”
Our knuckles whiten, we grit our teeth, we may even let a dirty word fly out of the side of our mouths. We give our horn a long, harsh push or—even worse—we slip up that one finger that tells this reckless renegade exactly what we think of their driving. It’s so easy to lash out since, after all, we don’t know this person. They’re just some anonymous moron drifting in and out of traffic as they please.
This scenario is a classic American experience: we believe we have the right of way, someone compromises that right, and we take offense, often reacting in impulsive, unwise ways. And it doesn’t just happen on the road.
When you think about it, the same thing happens to us all the time in the public square—anywhere, really, where ideas are presented, debated and shared. And on the Internet, particularly, it happens a lot.
As with any large gathering of souls, the Internet consists of many different people from many different upbringings offering up many different opinions and beliefs. And for those of us who are fortunate to live in countries that afford us the freedom to live and believe as we choose, we’re granted the right to choose where our loyalties in religion and politics lie. Those choices aren’t taken lightly nor held loosely, and most of us defend them with our very soul. This being the case, the Internet often disintegrates into a hotspot of disagreement and offense; bursting with arguments, insults and accusations with little or no warning.
We’ve seen it happen recently in discussions of gay marriage, gun laws, abortion, gender roles and more. Someone posts something that offends our beliefs, and a counter is quickly posted elsewhere. It’s as if those attacking our beliefs and opinions are actually attacking us personally, and that’s something we just cannot and will not allow. What once had the supposed potential of a calm discussion soon turns into slurs and insults being tossed back and forth, growing more and more hostile as witnesses enter the fray to defend their friends and own opinions. Names are called, orientations are attacked, and opinions are ransacked—until it all descends into digital chaos. All because someone took offense to an individual’s opinion and acted out.
This begs the question: What right do we have to be offended at someone else’s opinion or beliefs in the first place? We certainly have the right to disagree with another’s stance, but to take a personal affront to the beliefs of another speaks to something else entirely. It’s as if we’ve adopted the type of selfish mindset that expects everyone to shape their every thought and response to what we’ve chosen to believe.
Who are we to assume that our opinions hold more value than those of another? In reality, each of us possesses the equal right to believe as we wish. We may not agree on faith or politics or a million other things, but we can be centered enough to realize that differing opinions are not a call for anger and harsh actions.
Even so, some feel it is their right to incite us to anger—or to be incited to anger themselves. If we’re honest, we sometimes take the stance that our taking offense is a spiritual posture—one of speaking truth, combating lies and championing What Is Right. This may be true or it may not be, but in the words of Paul, if we have not love, we are “nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
These interactions can lead to bruised feelings and angry responses, simply because that’s our first reaction as human. But as Christians who seek to be examples of God, it is our responsibility to turn away from those who would offend and malign us with aimed insults. Is it easier to respond in anger once we’ve been offended? Without question. But because we are called to love this world and to be more through Him, we should not only refuse to engage those who come at us with hate, but choose to look upon them with grace and a loving heart as well.
At the very root of our Christian identity, we are called to love this world as God loves us, and that means without condition. We are to show the kind of love 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes as not rude or irritable nor insistent on its own way. The disagreements aren’t going anywhere. We just have to accept the call of loving the naysayers anyway.
In the end, it’s not easy to respond well to that which offends or hurts us, but if we choose instead to fill our hearts with the love and grace of God, there will be no room for the pain or offense this world brings. Speaking out of offense rarely brings about good things. But speaking out of love—that’s what can move mountains.This post was written by Corey Copeland of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, you can go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/taking-offense-not-part-christian-calling
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Several years ago, I got into a debate with a close friend and the conversation went quickly south. What began as a discussion about our theological and political differences ended up in a shouting match in which each person's character was called into question.
I went into the argument with a "win-at-all-costs" mentality. Winning a disagreement was the only way I knew how to disagree, but what I lost wasn't worth the victory. I said plenty of things I didn't mean. As the saying goes, "I won the battle, but lost the war." And lost a great friend in the process. We haven’t spoken since.
I may have won the debate, but it wasn’t worth the cost.
We’re never going to agree with everyone we come in contact with, but we must learn how to disagree in a way that honors Christ and His body.
Disagreement is an increasing norm in our lives, but we're marginally equipped. It's much easier to post disparaging remarks on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and news articles. Digital disagreement allows us to hide behind a screen.
Just take a sampling of the Christian blogosphere, where heated debates on who gets into heaven, the biblical role of women and gay marriage, just to name a few, are commonplace. Spend time scrolling through comments where any of these discussions take place and you'll immediately lose your faith in humanity.
All of this painfully illuminates the question: Why can't Christians disagree well? Why are we so comfortable tarnishing the name of Jesus—whom we all call “Lord”—just so we can win the argument?
Christians spend much of their time focused on how to engage the un-Christian world around them—and rightfully so. Yet in doing so, we sometimes lose our ability to navigate conversations and relationships with our own brothers and sisters.
John didn't hold anything back when he said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). We usually apply this to our relationship with unbelievers, but loving “one another” in and amongst our own is an incredible witness as well—for better or for worse. So how can we turn this around? What do we need to do in order to disagree with our brothers and sisters in love.
First, we need to understand that the underlying theme that allows for disagreement to happen in a healthy way is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence can be simply defined as seeking to understand before being understood. It's human nature to fight for your supposed “right” to an opinion and your supposed “right” to be heard. But the reigning mark of our faith is not holding on to our personal rights, but offering our Christ-reflective unconditional love. It's easier to hoard the opportunity to push someone else down than to sacrifice your right to be heard. But to uphold the name of love, this is often the harder, better way.
Emotional intelligence is sacrificing your rights in order to care for others. This is deeply rooted in the Christian faith: "In humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). By focusing only on yourself—your opinion, your agenda, your perspective—you shrink the world. Your problems become the lens you see everything through. You isolate yourself from a world looking for attention, love and human kindness. You cannot care for others when the world revolves around you. And you cannot build the Church body if all you are concerned about is yourself.
Yet in focusing on understanding the other, in an intentional act of love, your world expands. By seeking to understand before being understood, "our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection—or compassionate action," says psychologist Daniel Goleman in Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.
Just like in any family, conflict among Christians will never go away. But when we learn how to seek understanding before being understood, we can begin to have healthy disagreements.
We can learn to focus on areas of agreement over areas of disagreement. And perhaps then, we can restore our reputation of love.This post was written by Tyler Braun of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/why-dont-christians-play-nice
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
So often, a person only reveals a difficult period of his or her life after the event, while reflecting on the event. This is especially true of "testimonies" given at church. A person stands to thank the Lord for seeing her through a dark period of life; meanwhile, many people stare in wonder how most of the rest of us were unaware of her living through such an event. I, too, used to live a privatized life. If I was struggling through a rough patch in my life, I would keep it all to myself, unwilling to share my pain or difficulties. Part of the reason for my privacy was fear, part of it was shame, and another part was pride. I have decided not to live my life like that any longer. I intend on being transparent about my struggles. I think that in doing so I can honor the Lord, live a more honest and thus healthy life, as well as give comfort to anyone who may be experiencing the exact same feelings.Over the last month or so I have felt loneliness unparalleled -- never have I felt this lonely. This lonely period began when I discovered that the only friend I had (in my area) was not really a friend, in the true sense of the word. Our relationship, unbeknownst to me, has never been one of true friendship but of convenience. If this certain person could not find anyone else to spend time with, then I would do. I was unaware that our so-called friendship was in this sad state of affairs. Now, in other periods of my life, I would have responded differently to this tragic state. But at this vulnerable point in my life, when I most need a close friend (with whom I can spend time and confide and share my thoughts and feelings, as well as reciprocate), I am left all alone and very hurt. The friend I thought I had was not really my friend at all.I often picture loneliness as a chasm because that is how it feels -- like a space of emptiness that needs filling. "But the Lord should fill that chasm," some say. Well, that sounds nice; that sounds like the typical, Christian, spiritual-yet-superficial pat-answer to every situation. But I cannot see the Lord, nor can I audibly hear His voice, or hug or touch or punch and be playful with Him like I would a friend. The Lord gives us like-minded friends who can excite the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell (hopefully pleasant). "Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin" (Prov. 18:24 NRSV). In my present situation, little did I know that I had the former but not the latter. This present loneliness is also coupled with a deep sense of rejection. The one is as hard to bear as the other. What I am learning from this experience is how to choose a friend more wisely in the future. The saying is true: we cannot choose our family members, but we can choose our friends. Nor can we choose if or when loneliness will visit us: all of us, no matter our age or social status, are susceptible to a brief encounter with loneliness (or depression or rejection). Spouses and members of large families often sense loneliness as much as any single person; so the mere presence of people in our lives will not guard us from its grip.Some people, when experiencing loneliness or depression, merely endure it instead of praying or calling someone or watching a movie or going for a walk; they merely sit and endure the grief and pain, the emotional and mental torment. For some, enduring these times is all they can do; they feel paralyzed by their emotions or mental state.I know firsthand that there are many people in the world today, Christian and non-Christian, who are lonely and depressed. I know so because I receive their emails. None of us should deny the fact that at certain times in our lives we must drink the cup of loneliness. We do not like this cup. We try to avoid drinking the contents of this cup. But often we are forced to take this cup, press it to our lips, and drink.I think the aversion we sense to such an experience is natural. We should not feel guilty because we try to avoid feeling lonely or depressed. However, Henri Nouwen has some sound advice:Whenever you feel lonely, you must try to find the source of this feeling. You are inclined either to run away from your loneliness or to dwell in it. When you run away from it, your loneliness does not really diminish; you simply force it out of your mind temporarily. When you start dwelling in it, your feelings only become stronger, and you slip into depression. The spiritual task is not to escape your loneliness, not to let yourself drown in it, but to find its source.1Why finding the source of your loneliness is so very important, he admits, is because "it leads you to discern something good about yourself."2 For me, that goodness is grounded in the fact that I consider myself worthy of friendship, with much to offer a friend. I despise this loneliness because it reminds me that I actually have been rejected, and it hurts. During Jesus' darkest hours in the garden at Gethsemane (lit. "the place of pressing"), He confessed to being deeply grieved, to the point of death, praying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt. 26:39). Do we not pray the same prayer when we are facing some of the darkest hours of our lives? We all want our respective cups to pass from us. This cup of loneliness is mine to drink for now. No one else can drink from this particular cup. I must drink it, and I must drink it alone. A time will come when the contents of this cup will be depleted. I can then wash the cup, dry it, and place it back into the cupboard. I look forward to that day. 1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 36.
2 Ibid. This truly honest post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/the-cup-of-loneliness.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Lord, the feelings are not the same
I guess I'm older, I guess I've changed
And how I wish it had been explained
That as you're growing you must remember
That nothing lasts, except the grace of God
By which I stand, in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away, except for grace
By which I'm saved
Lord, I remember that special way
I vowed to serve You, when it was brand new
But like Peter, I can't even watch and pray
One hour with You and I bet, I could deny You too.
But nothing lasts, except the grace of God
By which I stand, in Jesus
I'm sure that my whole life would waste away, except for grace
By which I'm saved
But nothing lasts, except the grace of God
By which I stand, in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away, except for grace
By which I'm saved
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.
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. The longer you stay in the store, the more likely I will buy something." 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 this post 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 A MAN.