Unfortunately, our time in Ecuador did not end as well as I wanted. I started hearing rumors among the missionary community that the pastor I worked with was abusive towards his wife. I couldn't believe it, he seemed like such a nice guy. He seemed to be kind and friendly. I had however noticed that his wife had bruises on her wrists at times.
I had some doubts about him before I heard these rumors. I knew that he kept a file on various people in the community as I came upon it accidentally one time in the church office. It was filled with comments and remarks about certain individuals and seemed kinda inappropriate coming from a pastor. Yet, I put it back and didn't say anything about it.
He also had several snakes he kept in his office that he had picked up from the Amazon while traveling back and forth there. I don't care for snakes but I don't think it's particularly unusual to have snakes for pets. What was strange, for me, was he would let them out and they would crawl around the office, often laying up on the window sill sunning themselves or chasing the many lizards that were available.
Thirdly, he didn't seem particularly friendly to Ecuadorians who would drop by the office. Some he would make fun of but usually he ushered them out of the office waiting area. I think that it was mainly because he hardly spoke Spanish, in spite of having lived there a number of years. That was really odd to me... Living in a country and not learning the language.
Finally, he told me about his Christmas sermon that he wrote. The subject was unusual, it was about how Satan was present during the birth of Christ. He told me that he wrote his sermon, almost automatically. He said that he put the pen in his hand and the words just seemed to flow out on to the paper, without him giving it much thought. I wondered what was the inspiration for the sermon.
Yet, I kept those four things to myself. I only talked to Karyn about them.
I finally decided that I needed to ask him about the rumors I was hearing about him being abusive. I was NOT accusing him. My mistake was that I should have confided in a board member and had a board member present when I spoke with him. As I told him what I heard, I could see him getting red in the face, his nostrils flared and his hands clenched. I thought he was going to hit me. He demanded that I tell him where I heard such horrible rumors and I told him that I wouldn't tell him but that I thought he deserved to know that people were saying such things about him.
I thought that was the end of it, I believed that possibly, those rumors weren't true. However, the next morning, my suspicions were confirmed. When I got to the office, he was standing at his office window laughing at an Ecuadorian woman who was going thru the church trash. He was laughing because all of a sudden, she jumped and ran off. I asked him what was so funny. He said, "I had to kill one of my snakes because he bit me and I had him in the trash there. She found it and it scared her. Being raised on a farm, I learned early that when something turns on you, you kill it." Then he had a big grin on his face. I left his office and went to my office to think about what just happened. The timing was unmistakable. I decided to write a letter to my missions board letting them know what was going on. In less than a week, I got a reply, "We think it's better you just come home."
When I told this pastor that my missions board was calling us back early, he said, "don't think that means that you can play. You still have a lot of people to see here. If you have an appointment or not, I want you sitting in that office." I protested as this was new behavior. Before, he said if I didn't have appointments, I could go home to Karyn and the boys. Yet, I did comply. It was difficult as we had to make plans to move back to the States and that required some coordination with Karyn and we needed to get rid of things in our apartment that we wouldn't take back with us. Nevertheless, because I'm married to such a capable spouse, we managed to successfully move and were gone within a month.
Once we got back in the States, I heard that he got transferred to another church in the US and there he experienced a divorce. I don't know the particulars and I was saddened to hear it. I was saddened because that showed that his marriage was troubled. If he could have confided in me, I could have possibly helped him save his marriage. I really liked his wife and his children and him. I can imagine that this divorce was very disruptive to his family and probably ended his career as an ordained minister. I haven't heard since the divorce what happened to him or his family but I still pray that God would move in his life so that he experiences true forgiveness and reconciliation.
BE A MAN.
I was with him in the hospital. This missionary had been hospitalized for anxiety. "I don't know what's wrong with me, I can't stop worrying and shaking. My insides just feel like they are made of jello."
This missionary had been on the mission field for several years and had much success at bringing the gospel to an indigenous people in a country in South America. However, now, he was having emotional issues that have taken him out of his ministry. We discussed his past, his calling, his mission and he was truly a remarkable man. We discussed his spiritual life and all seemed in place, with one exception: he had been cursed by the local "bruja". This witch had performed a ceremony to bring down Christ's influence among "her people." Her home was within site of the church that had been established in this community. He had seen her performing her "brujeria" during one of his sermons in his church.
Somehow, this witch's "power" had gotten to him and he began to worry, doubting God's ability to protect him from such brujeria. We prayed at every session asking God to protect him and show us what He wanted us to do. One time, while praying, the missionary stopped praying and yelled, "that is it!" A big smile spread across his face and he said, "I now know what's been going on!" He proceeded to tell me he had heard a cryptic story that a few of the church members told him about a "service" that the bruja held just outside the church in the middle of the nite. From that point on, the missionary became stronger and much less anxious. He began to talk about "taking the church back from the witch." Within less than two weeks after his epiphany, he was discharged and returned to his mission field.
About a month later, I received a terrific letter of explanation and testimony from this missionary. Evidently, what had happened, when he returned to the church, he told his congregation about his feelings about this bruja and told them he was determined to not let her win this spiritual battle. During prayer with his congregation, it was revealed to them that they should dig in the dirt of the northwest corner, just outside the church. Several members and the missionary went outside and started digging. After a bit, they found a talisman buried there. One of the members, who used to be into brujeria identified the object as something used to curse people. The missionary promptly continued the service where the talisman was burned in a fire. In his letter, he proceeded to tell me how he felt as if there was a new freedom in the church after that.
However, what was most interesting, is that he wrote me, "I was foolish to believe that satan had any power over me and the church. I was fighting to defeat the devil and I had no need to do so. A talisman is just that, a talisman. It has no power and no ability to hurt me. I learned from that experience that I didn't need to fight, I just needed to relax and let God fight for me. I was being a missionary under my own power. Now, Jesus is running this mission field."
This story was a real faith builder for me and I hope it is for you. We don't need to fear, we need to trust God and count on His faithfulness. Satan can't do anything except try to intimidate and scare. His power lies in his ability to spread fear and doubt. Satan is full of bluster and bluff and has no power over us. As long as we stay connected to God's Holy Spirit, we are victorious.
BE A MAN.
God is aching for you to be one with Him, that He might use you. He wants to give you a voice in His kingdom. He wants to show you his power.
So when He defines His terms of sexual purity, don’t say, “God can’t possibly mean that!” because He does. Christ is looking to see where you can be trustworthy – capable of handling more for His Kingdom. Jesus says, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
If you aren’t trustworthy in handling fleshly passions, how can you be trusted to handle things of great value? Jesus said that if you were faithful in the little things, He would entrust you with bigger things. In this, God isn’t primarily referring to what He’s called you to do in His kingdom. He’s primarily concerned with what He’s called you to be in your character.
Maybe you’ve asked God to reveal His will for your life, but how are you doing with that “little” part of His will that He has already revealed to you?
Excerpted from Every Young Man’s Battle – pages 80-81BE HOLY.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.
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
There are days when we feel God's presence. We sense God's love. We see God's power. But we do not always feel or sense or see. There are times of silence, distance and uncertainty. Thereare the difficult times of waiting for God to appear. In times likethis we may find ourselves both longing for God and fearing that God will come.
The longing comes because in our heart of hearts we know that there is no recovery without God's gracious presence. If God does not appear, we are stuck, bound, hopelessly entangled in dysfunction. If God does appear, it will be like the sun rising - we will be able to see the way. It will be like gentle rains which nurture us so that we can grow and thrive.
The fear comes because often we do not see God as one who comes as 'sun' and 'rain' to give life. We are afraid that when God does appear, it will be to punish us, to demand restitution from us, to shame us. Because we have served vengeful and vindictive gods, we fear that it will be the god-of-impossible-expectations who will finally appear.
We do well to follow the urging of this text to 'acknowledge God'. We need daily to examine whom we serve. When we acknowledge the god-of -impossible-expectations, then we will surely fear his appearing. But if we acknowledge the God of the Bible whose coming is to nurture and give life, then we will await God's coming like the dawn of a new day.
I acknowledge you, Lord.
You are not the god of impossible-expectations.
You are not the god-who-is-eager-to-punish.
I know what it is like when these other gods come.
They bring shame, blame and fear.
I do not acknowledge them, Lord.
I acknowledge you.
Come as the dawn of a new day, Lord.
Bring light into my dark days.
Come as gentle rain, Lord,
Cleanse, renew and nurture.
Come, Lord, as the dawn.
Come as the rains.
Water the parched earth of my soul.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
God has a battle to fight, and the battle is for our freedom. As Tremper Longman says, "Virtually every book of the Bible—Old and New Testaments—and almost every page tells us about God's warring activity." I wonder if the Egyptians who kept Israel under the whip would describe Yahweh as a Really Nice Guy? Plagues, pestilence, the death of every firstborn—that doesn't seem very gentlemanly, now, does it?
You remember that wild man, Samson? He's got a pretty impressive masculine résumé: killed a lion with his bare hands, pummeled and stripped thirty Philistines when they used his wife against him, and finally, after they burned her to death, he killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. Not a guy to mess with. But did you notice? All those events happened when "the Spirit of the LORD came upon him" Now, let me make one thing clear: I am not advocating a sort of "macho man" image. I'm not suggesting we all head off to the gym and then to the beach to kick sand in the faces of wimpy Pharisees.
I am attempting to rescue us from a very, very mistaken image we have of God—especially of Jesus—and therefore of men as his image-bearers. Dorothy Sayers wrote that the church has "very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah," making him "a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies." Is that the God you find in the Bible?
You can tell what kind of God you've got simply by noting the impact he has on you. Does he make you bored? Does he scare you with his doctrinal nazism? Does he make you want to scream because he's just so very nice? In the Garden of Gethsemane, in the dead of night, a mob of thugs "carrying torches, lanterns and weapons" comes to take Christ away. Note the cowardice of it—why didn't they take him during the light of day, down in the town?
Does Jesus shrink back in fear?
No, he goes to face them head-on.
This post is an excerpt from Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
BE A MAN.
Do you want power? Consider the power that Jesus had available to Him: "Don't you think that I could call on my Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to help me now?" What does that mean? Let's put this in mathematical terms for all you geeks out there.
It is generally considered that in the Roman Empire, a legion was 6,000 soldiers. In Isaiah 37:36, a single angel obliterated 185,000 men.
I think you know where I am going, but let me do the math for you...
If a single angel can take care of 185,000 men, then the combined strength of one legion would be enough to destroy 1, 110, 000,000 (one billion, one hundred ten million) men. That is just ONE legion!
Now Jesus said that he had more than 12 legions of angels at his disposal. That is at least 72,000 angels. So the combined strength at Jesus' command was the ability to annihilate 13,320,000,000 (thirteen billion, three hundred twenty million) men. BTW - The current earth population is a little over seven billion.
That is the kind of physical strength that Jesus has available to him. No wonder he told Peter to put away his sword. Jesus did not need Peter's little sword that night. That means that Jesus willingly gave Himself to be crucified.
Let's learn a lesson from Peter and Jesus here.
As you face your own challenges in life, always keep in mind that Jesus has the power to fix any problem you'll ever come across. Before you jump in and make things worse by taking matters into your own hands, remember Peter.
The next time you're tempted to "grab a sword and start swinging," take a few minutes to remind yourself that Jesus can handle the problem without your intervention. Before you do anything else, pray and ask the Lord what you are supposed to do. Then after you receive your answer and follow His instructions, just watch His supernatural power swing into action to solve the dilemma you are facing!!
Taken from Sparkling Gems from the GreekBE 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 TERRIFIC MARRIAGE looks like.
BE A MAN.
I must admit that addressing this topic has been very challenging. While I have a very clear understanding of the role that control plays in my addiction, it was more difficult for me to connect with it’s specific role when I watch porn. However, after much introspection and conversation with friends I can now make a more direct connection. I am very grateful to the XXX Church for assigning me this topic and for the journey that followed as a result.
On the surface, the relationship between control and watching porn is very easy: I control what, when and where I act out. I pick the fantasy. I can hop to one scene or another and best of all, I face no risk of rejection. I am in total control!! But so what......I’m also in total control if I jump behind the wheel of a car and drive head first into a brick wall. I’m may be in control but at what cost? I kidded myself for a long time thinking that I wasn’t hurting myself or those around me when I watched porn, but boy was I wrong. As I dug deeper, I had to ask myself what I was really trying to control when I watched porn? And what damage was I doing to myself, my loved ones and my relationship with God?
So what am I really trying to control? In speaking with a good friend in recovery, we agreed that we are not only trying to control the situation, but we are also trying to control how the need will be met. Keep in mind that sex is not bad. In fact God has made us sexual beings and has given us ways for our sexual needs to be met. However I often foolishly default to “my way is better than God’s way” and substitute a surrogate pleasure (porn) for this need to be met. But the real need is not sex, it is intimacy. Somewhere along the way I told myself what I consider to be “the great lie: that sex = intimacy.” This one false belief has led me down many a lonesome and troubling paths.
So let’s look at the second question above and how is my relationship with God is affected. When I try to exert control over my life rather than trusting God, am I not really worshiping a false idol? I’m really saying, “this thing that I’m worshiping (porn) will solve all of my problems? Watching porn, medicating my feelings and controlling my environment is much better than turning to God and asking for his guidance?!” Seeing it in writing really points out how crazy this thinking is. Keep in mind that the bible is very clear on worshiping false idols. In Colossians 3:5 Paul defines idolatry as “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed” and we also know that the first commandment prohibits Idolatry: “You shall have no other gods before me.” I’ve always thought of false idols as simply the “golden calf”. But when I expand my thinking it encompasses anything I worship: Money, power, prestige, career.........and yes porn. So one of the major consequences of watching porn and therefore worshiping false gods is the pain and dysfunction that consequently poisons my life and my relationships, including with God. Sadly, one lesson I just can’t seem to master is that placing my trust in God is always a better solution than trusting my own devices.
So to summarize, it is merely an illusion to think that porn makes me feel all-powerful/like I’m in control. The reality is that I am far from in control of what is important: realizing intimate relationships with my loved ones and with God. Choosing porn takes me farther away from reality. Choosing healthy intimate interactions with my loved ones brings me closer to God.
This honest post was written by Jim MC from XXX Church. The original post with comments can be found here: http://www.xxxchurch.com/men/porn-makes-me-feel-all-powerful-like-im-in-control.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The weight, thrust and speed of a plane at a specific moment during take off necessitates a point of no return, no time to pull up or abort the take off, it must continue regardless of what is in front of them. Ever had that feeling as you sit in front of the computer screen?
I think we all recognise the process of taking off into the soul destroying world of pornography, the taxi onto the run way, the slow process of picking up speed and that moment of no return. I have found that I am not strong enough to abort the take off once I am on the runway, the key is to discover the triggers that propel me to even get into the plane. Having mechanisms such as the great software at xxxchurch helps to abort the take off but doesn't stop the triggers from instigating my hearts journey into pornography.
Sometimes these triggers are easier to spot than others, having a really crap day, everybody has unloaded and dumped their waste on me or just times of undue stress will get me looking for a quick release, I now recognise this and am able to instigate a pre determined process of accountability and strategies of distance from computers etc.
The problem really comes to the fore when multiple triggers happen all at once with my largest trigger being 'aloneness' coupled with stress, depression or even euphoria over a successful 'event'. As I write this my wife is on a plane to the other end of the country for five days during which, I have the four kids (3yrs to 11yrs), childcare, school, work, an end off year bible college assignment due, a blog to write, my two monthly tax to complete a men's event and just to top it off my wife and I have not had sex for at least a week (just keepin it real). I tell you the odds are stacked, my boarding pass to late night destruction is all but purchased, am I worried? Yep! So I have instigated some rules, I have recognised triggers, I am planned but all it takes is for one more thing, that left field attack and all laid plans could be out the window.
So what do I do, I have safety nets, I recognise triggers but its still going to be a tough week and i am going to need something extra. I cannot stress enough the love and power available in Christ. I have done all I can, in my own strength, so to not get to the point of no return but my heart is cunning, deceptive and somewhat selfish on its own and a continual leaning into Jesus, the lover of my soul, will be required. What does that mean? It means that I am more like the tax collectors, Gentiles, non believers that Jesus came to be a great physician to and He enjoys being invited into my home and on top of the accountability team, the software, the rules around computer use I also have the God of the universe in my corner, cheering for me, providing the vision of wholeness, and giving strength when mine runs out. I just need to lean into Him when all the guns are pointing in my direction with triggers just waiting to go off. It is a partnership that I am reliant on, a partnership that requires me to do my part but also one that requires me to lean into Him.
Do not leave out the greatest power, strength and love that can be offered, Jesus desires for you and me to be whole and as we spend time in His word, in prayer, and just sitting in His presence we have something completely 'other' that we can call upon when the triggers to destruction start taking over.
This post was written by Jason Baird of XXX Church. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.xxxchurch.com/men/what-do-i-do-when-temptation-is-getting-hard-to-resist.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.