I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.
I shouldn’t know this fact about him, but it came up in conversation a few days ago. We were talking about the divorce rate; both of us gave our theories as to why the statistics are so high. I mentioned in my diagnosis a few studies that show pornography to be a root cause in over 50 percent of divorces annually.
He laughed. “People don’t get divorced over porn.” He went on to explain that porn isn’t a “big deal” to most people. It’s not “like it’s cheating or something.” He told me that he looks at it multiple times daily. His wife, he insisted, might be a little peeved if she knew the extent of it, but only because women overreact about “that kind of thing.”
What kind of thing? Their husbands spending all day obsessively plunging through the darkest regions of the internet for graphic sexual images of rape, abuse, perversion, exploitation and other forms of filthy depravity previously unknown to mankind?
Yeah. That kind of thing. No reason why any wife should be too upset about that, apparently.
Listen guys, I know this is an uncomfortable conversation. But it’s time we man up and get real about pornography. First things first: if you’re married and you look at porn, you are cheating. Period. From a Christian perspective, this can’t be debated. Christ laid it out very clearly: if you lust after another woman, you have committed adultery. When we look at porn we are choosing to succumb to that lust; we are indulging it, fertilizing it, giving it respite in our minds. We are diving into it headfirst and soaking in it like a sponge. We are lessening ourselves, betraying our wives and participating in the violent exploitation of women (and girls). Or minds and our bodies belong to the Lord and to our wives; pornography, therefore, intrudes on their domain. If we look at porn, we are adulterers. We are adulterers in all the worst ways.
We don’t even need to refer to Scripture to figure out the simple equation that porn equals adultery.
Why wouldn’t it?
Because you aren’t physically in contact with another woman?
So what? That’s merely a matter of semantics and circumstance. The absence of physical touch doesn’t automatically free you of the scarlet letter — if it did, ‘sexting’ with other women would be fair game, I suppose. How would you feel if you looked through your wife’s phone and found racy, sexually graphic text messages she’d sent to a man at her office? Would you be alright with it as long as she could prove she never had any physical contact with him? Or is that totally different because she knows the guy, whereas porn is anonymous and impersonal? See, we find ourselves constructing many arbitrary lines of distiniction when we are deteremined to rationalize behavior we instinctively know to be immoral and wrong.
But, OK, what if she didn’t know the guy? What if she was engaging in “fantasies” with men she never met? Imagine that, in your cyber travels, you stumbled upon a porn site featuring pictures and videos of a particularly alluring young female: your wife. How would that sit with you? Your wife selling digital sex all over the internet — how would you like that? It might cause a bit of a marital dispute, wouldn’t you say?
If you wouldn’t want your wife being a porn provider, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to be a porn consumer. If you wouldn’t want her to invite and encourage other men to violate her in their minds, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to accept the invitation to violate other women in your mind.
I don’t mean to concentrate only on married men. Porn is poison for everyone, married or not. And I’m not here to castigate you if you’ve stumbled. We live in a society that preys upon a man’s weaknesses, shoving sex into his face at hyper speed every day, all day, all of the time. This isn’t an excuse; just an attempt to put things into context. I won’t yell at a guy who fights a porn addiction anymore than I’d yell at a guy who fights a crack addiction. But at least the crack addict likely won’t encounter very many people (besides his dealer) who will tell him that it’s actually healthy to smoke crack. If he ventures outside of the abandoned shack where he scores his dope, he probably won’t find any respectable people who will say, “hey, crack isn’t a big deal — it’s totally natural to smoke crack, man!” In that way, the crack smoker has a leg up on the porn addict. The porn addict, by contrast, has to fight both the compulsion itself and the myriad of creeps who will try to convince him that it’s all just a bit of innocent fun.
That’s a lie, of course. It’s not innocent. It’s not fun.
I could cite for you the mounds of psychiatric research proving the detrimental effects of pornography on the brain. But you can do that research yourself.
I could tell you about sex slavery, human trafficking, drug abuse, and child molestation, and I could explain how the porn industry wouldn’t exist without these necessary ingredients. But these are conclusions you can draw on your own, if ever you take even a moment to think about it.
I could remind you that these women you find on your porn sites might not be women at all — they could be children — and there’s no way for you to know for sure. I could then point out that any avid porn customer has most likely at some point been a child porn customer, whether he knew it or not. But this is, indeed, an obvious and inescapable reality.
I could tell you that many children view graphic porn for the first time before the age of 12. I could tell you that we haven’t even begun to reap the atrocious fruits that will come from an entire generation raised on the heinous perversions of internet pornography. But it’s probably too late for these warnings.
So what is left? Perhaps nothing, really. Pornography is evil, empty, deadening, dirty — this is something we all know. That’s why, unless you are either psychotic or utterly despicable, you wouldn’t want your daughter to get into the porn business. That’s why most people hide their porn habits. That’s why it still isn’t considered acceptable to browse “adult” websites at your desk at work or at a table in Starbucks (although people still do, in both scenarios). That’s why you only find porn shops and strip clubs in the slummy, rundown parts of town. No matter how hedonistic and “open minded” we become, we still recognize porn as something that ought to be stowed away in the dank, dark corners of our lives. This is Natural Law, and we can’t escape it. We have an innate understanding of right and wrong, whether we want it or not.
Married men: I think we should be spending our free time with our families, or reading interesting books so that we can sharpen our minds, or building things, or exercising, or doing anything else that will make us better men. Porn will not make you a better man. It will make you smaller. It will make you a liar. It will kill that instinct inside you that calls you to protect and honor women. It will turn you into something you never wanted to be. It will turn you into a sneaky, shameful pervert. It will turn you into an adulterer.
Real men don’t look at pornography.This post was written by Matt Walsh. To find his original post with comments, go here: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/11/25/married-men-your-porn-habit-is-an-adultery-habit/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A new report released by NPR outlines that a number of congregations across America are now using beer as a way to attract new members.
The effort is an experiment in finding methods that will appeal to those who otherwise would not set foot in a church. Some beer-based gatherings are held right in the the church building, and others are hosted at the local pub.
One of the locations highlighted in the report is Fort Worth, Texas, where Church-in-a-pub, sponsored by “Pastor” Phil Heinze of Calvary Lutheran Church, is held each week at the local bar.
“I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here,” attendee Leah Stanfield told the publication. “And I find friends that love God [and] love craft beer.”
Approximately 30-40 people meet for the weekly gathering, which includes Bible readings, fellowship and communion–all over pizza and beer at Zio Carlo pub.
The Regional Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently recognized Church-in-a-pub as a synodically authorized worshiping community. In 2014, another area “pastor” plans to expand the concept throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
While Calvary Lutheran Church holds their gathering in a bar, the First Christian Church of Portland, Oregon hosts a monthly “beer and hymns” night at the church building, where congregants get together to sing hymns, talk and drink beer.
NPR tells the story of one transgender attendee who got up to speak at a recent event, announcing that he was raised in a church that told him that animals don’t have souls. However, because his dog had recently died, he wanted to sing a song that night in church in honor of his dog.
“I want to sing this song in defiance of that because Gunner was my friend,” he stated to those gathered as they sipped beer. “And he has emotions and a personality, and I had a relationship with him that’s as real as any relationship I had with any human being.”
The Wall Street Journal covered a similar story earlier this year in highlighting the new trend, introducing its readers to a Saturday night gathering held by Pastor Matt Bistayi, who started Valley Church in Allendale, Michigan.
“My name is Darin,” the music director announced to those present. “And I like me a 30-pack of Busch Light!”
The group, which holds to the motto, ”What Would Jesus Brew?” then began to applaud.
For some congregations, instead of beer, cigars are offered to potential members. As previously reported, Eric Van Scyoc of St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Rocky River, Ohio calls his gathering the “Smokin’ Bible Study,” where men assemble in the back room of Cigar Cigars and smoke stogies as they study the word of God. He says that he has been leading the studies at the location for approximately three years.
“It’s a chance to bring the Bible out from the walls of the church,” Van Scyoc told The Plain Dealer.
He explained that when he was approached by the owner of Cigar Cigars to lead the study, he was reluctant at first, but since no one in the church had a problem with the idea, he accepted.
“Some women have said to us, ‘I’m going to come by because it shouldn’t be just for men,’” Van Scyoc explained. “They’re certainly welcome, but so far, none of them have come by.”
However, some pastors have expressed great concern and caution over increasing attempts to reinvent church—using carnal methods to attract men.
“Rather than relating with people by becoming like people, the Church is to present the glory of God,” Scott Brown of the Center for Family Integrated Churches told Christian News Network. “When people come into the church, they should see a completely new kingdom, a completely new community. They should see how different God is than they are and how much more wonderful He is, and how His ways are much more beautiful than their ways.”
Pastor Eric Ludy, President of Ellerslie Mission Society, has made similar statements in expressing his concerns about the Church seeking to attract the world by appearing “cool.”
“The problem is Jesus wasn’t cool. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Jesus didn’t do it the world’s way. He came in and offended the world,” he told reporters. “He came in and did everything the wrong way. … We actually want to indict Jesus and say, ‘You know what? If you had known as much as we know you would have done it differently.’ We want to appeal to the world’s sensibilities and somehow draw them to the Gospel. Jesus didn’t do any of that.”
“The Bible says, ‘Raise Him up and He will draw all men unto Himself,’” he continued. “The key is we lift up the Gospel. We give the straight and narrow path. We give it undiluted and people will start respecting us because we are not giving them something that will tantalize the flesh. We are giving them something that will bring life to their spirit.”This post was written by H Clark. For the original post, go to: http://christiannews.net/2013/11/03/bibles-and-booze-congregations-across-america-attempting-to-attract-new-members-with-beer/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Look at the life of Jesus. Notice what he did. When Jesus touched the blind, they could see; all the beauty of the world opened before them. When he touched the deaf, they were able to hear; for the first time in their lives they heard laughter and music and their children's voices. He touched the lame, and they jumped to their feet and began to dance. And he called the dead back to life and gave them to their families.
Do you see? Wherever humanity was broken, Jesus restored it. He is giving us an illustration here, and there, and there again. The coming of the kingdom of God restores the world he made.
God has been whispering this secret to us through creation itself, every year, at springtime, ever since we left the Garden. Sure, winter has its certain set of joys. The wonder of snowfall at midnight, the rush of a sled down a hill, the magic of the holidays. But if winter ever came for good and never left, we would be desolate. Every tree leafless, every flower gone, the grasses on the hillsides dry and brittle. The world forever cold, silent, bleak.
After months and months of winter, I long for the return of summer. Sunshine, warmth, color, and the long days of adventure together. The garden blossoms in all its beauty. The meadows soft and green. Vacation. Holiday. Isn't this what we most deeply long for? To leave the winter of the world behind, what Shakespeare called "the winter of our discontent," and find ourselves suddenly in the open meadows of summer?
If we listen, we will discover something of tremendous joy and wonder. The restoration of the world played out before us each spring and summer isprecisely what God is promising us about our lives. Every miracle Jesus ever did was pointing to this Restoration, the day he makes all things new.This post is an excerpt from the book, Epic by John Eldredge
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The first generation Christians were brought out of evil. The power of Jesus radically changed these individuals. Look at the list of sins from which the first generation Christians were delivered: 1) sexual immorality, 2) idolatry, 3) adultery, 4) homosexuality, 5) greed, 6) drunkenness and 7) swindling. I Cor 6:9-10
Did you catch that? The church treasurer who cooks the books is among the list of individuals who do things that the church vehemently speaks out against. Yet…
“…that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Cor 6:11
Did you also catch “that is what some of you were”? These individuals were brought out of their lifestyle and were justified. Justified is a term that means “just as if I’d not sinned.”
So what did the early church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
On this blog you will find a post written by a man who did just that and now can’t find a church that will accept him. I know another Christian man who 20+ years past his crime, paid for his crime, and has set up boundaries to not be around children, who is searching for a church that will accept him into their fellowship.
What is the church’s response to these individuals? We will accept the greedy person (“God I want you to bless me with a Cadillac”) and in fact will have opulent church potlucks where people that don’t need the rich foods pile it on. We forgive the church board member who cheats on his wife.
But what do we as a church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
This is not an easy answer… There are three complicating but very important points to make before answering that question:
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.
Knowing these three facts, as a church what should be our response to someone who is a sexual offender? Especially to those who have repented, become a sincere Christian; have turned away from their sinfulness and desire to have fellowship with other Christians? Tomorrow we will make some recommendations.
BE A MAN.
I wish there weren't statements like that out there. But there are: "With Jihawg Ammo, you don't just kill an Islamic terrorist, you also send him to hell. That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack. If it ever becomes necessary to defend yourself and those around you, our ammo works on two levels." This press release was put out by South Fork Industries of Dalton Gardens, Idaho.
This Jihawg Ammo (http://www.jihawg.com) comes with catch phrases: "Peace thru Pork" and "Put some ham in MoHAMed" among others. As a Christian, I am disturbed by such statements, such advertisements and such a product. By lacing these bullets with pork, it makes them unclean to Muslims. So, the premise is, Islamic terrorists believe that if they die in a Jihad, that they go to heaven. However, if an Islamic terrorist is killed by Jihawg ammo, then he will go to hell.
Why am I disturbed? There is an interesting scene in the movie, "End of the Spear" In that movie Nate Saint is asked by his son Steve Saint, "If the Waodoni attack, will you defend yourself? Will you use your guns?" Nate Saint replied, "Son, we can't shoot the Waodoni. They are not ready for heaven... we are." If you recall, in this movie, Nate Saint and several other missionaries were killed by the Waodoni. They did NOT use their guns except to fire into the air in attempts to frighten their attackers.
This post is not about pacifism nor is it about self-defense. This post is about what this product does to me at an internal level. That's where I am disturbed. It makes me wonder if we Christians, really truly care about those who oppose us? Abraham Lincoln put it well. If Jihawg ammo was around when he was president, I think he would have again said, "the best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend." Jesus put it better, "if you just love those who love you, what good are you?" But what about those individuals "from the OTHER political party"? Do you want to get rid of THOSE people or are you loving them? But what about "THOSE from another race," "THOSE from another religion," "THOSE gays, THOSE homeless, THOSE kids, THOSE old people, THOSE druggies, THOSE crazies, THOSE perverts, etc" The list can go on and on and on... THOSE. THEM. OTHER. Words that don't share the love of Christ.As a Christian, how are we to treat those who don't agree with us? Pray for their destruction? Shoot them? Send them to hell? Avoid them? Not allow them into our church? I am not innocent. This post is written for me as well as you. What must we do as Christians? We need to reach people for Christ. LORD HELP US.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"Dear Lord, in case you didn't know, he's right upstairs! You need to do something about him! My daughter says she loves him. Can't she see how mean and abusive he is? He does drugs and is going to take her with him! God, you've gotta do something!" The pastor sharing this part of his life in his sermon was being transparent. I really, really, like it when pastors share real stories. This pastor was talking about being in his basement while his daughter and her boyfriend were upstairs watching TV. He was fuming! His daughter didn't see the dangers of dating such a man. He was praying that God would take care of this man.
Another pastor was sharing his personal story. He has a brother who was hopelessly lost, doing drugs, living on the streets, homeless, dejected and rejected. He told about how much he was praying for his brother and was wanting to help him without enabling his choices.
Another pastor told about his son and how his son had become hopelessly lost. He had showed promise as a child, going to church, accepting Jesus as his Savior but like the other two, drugs, sinfulness, hopelessness had set in. This pastor endured 30+ years of his son's lascivious and selfish living.
In the first situation, the pastor was praying that his daughter would wake up and leave the young man. He was praying that God would have this boy leave his daughter alone. You know what happened? God DID do something to this boy. God changed him. He ended up marrying this pastor's daughter and became an upright man, being a terrific father, husband and son-in-law.
In the third situation, after 30+ years of praying, the result of the pastor's prayers became a reality. His son returned to God, cleaned up his act and became a preacher. He is now a pastor of three years and sharing with people in his congregation whom the church had previously ignored, given up on or discarded. His ministry is seeing fruit among the dregs of society.
So, for the second pastor, we don't know where his brother is going. Prayers are going up for this man, desires that he will open up and let God bring him to Him. Please pray for this pastor and his brother. It is agonizing to have someone you love destroy himself.
The point of today's post is "do you REALLY believe that people can change?"
When you pray for people, do you pray that God will remove them, kill them, get rid of them.... or do you pray that God will CHANGE them? It's easy to say, "Oh, I pray that God will change them." But I ask you, look deep inside yourself when you are praying for these individuals, "Do you really want them to change and become part of God's Kingdom or do you just don't want to hear about them anymore, to not be troubled by them anymore?"
Lord, help us to see people and love people the way you do.
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.
I was talking to a gentleman at a bar and he made an interesting comment. "You know Sam that goes to your church? You should talk to him. He used to be one of the meanest men I've ever met." He proceeded to tell about some of Sam's antics. Some of Sam's antics were funny, some were off-color, and some were downright mean. I knew Sam came to our church but I didn't know him very well.
So, next Sunday, I found Sam after church and stopped him for a moment. I told him that I met a man earlier in the week who told me about him. I started to tell him a bit of what I heard and he interrupted me. What Sam said next startled me. He said, "Dale, I'm a Christian now. I am so ashamed of what I used to be. I was not a nice man. I cannot talk about it." Sam said this in such a manner that it was obvious that I had really hurt him. I quickly apologized to him and he excused himself.
Sam taught me an important lesson that day.
Do I take sin seriously?
Do I take my sin seriously?
On another occasion, I was having lunch with a friend who was a new Christian. In the midst of our conversation, he made this interesting comment, "As I grow in my faith, I learn how my past behavior, though forgiven, was shameful and wrong."
That's one of many reasons why I love hanging out with new Christians. They don't have all those defenses that "mature" Christians have.
My new friend taught me an important lesson that day.
Have I taken my sin seriously?
Am I truly repentant of what I have done in the past?
I'm not saying that I need to wallow in my past sinful behavior.
I'm not saying that I need to live a life full of guilt.
I just wonder if I take too many trips down memory lane, thinking about how much "fun" I used to have. Do I take too many fishing excursions, trying to recall my past sins positively?
Do I feel godly sorrow for my past?
Do I feel regret for my past behavior?
These men taught me that a real man faces his past and takes responsibility for his behavior. A real man is sensitive to God's work in his life. A real man doesn't recall past sinful behavior in a positive manner. A real man is a new creation. He adamantly rejects sin.
BE A MAN.
If you stumble into sin, believer, don't give up; don't allow hopelessness to consume you, the deceitfulness of sin to blind you, or the weight of shame to defeat you. In the morning and evening prayer we pray, in part, the following: "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not fall" (Ps. 16:8
). Christ is
at your right hand, and this fall shall not be final for you; He took the final fall.
Yes, you may feel as though your worst day has cast a shadow over you that will never break to show the light of day, but, happily, you're wrong. God, in Christ, has declared you to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:21
). Of the righteous we read: "for though they fall seven times, they will rise again" (Prov. 24:16
NRSV). You will rise, friend, because Christ will lift you up. He took the ultimate fall in order that you should rise.
No one knows how many times I've had to encourage myself, thinking these thoughts, repeating the words of this post to myself. How I didn't play dead but arose from sin is a testimony to God's sheer grace. This post is as much an exhortation to myself as it is for anyone else experiencing difficulties or tragedies, whether self-caused or otherwise.
What do you do on the worst day of your life? Rise: not because you're inherently worthy of being named righteous. Rise because the one who took the ultimate fall declares you righteous. Rise because, though you sinned, though you deserve the fate of the wicked like the rest of us, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1
But rise, too, because you neither honor the Lord nor serve the body of Christ by remaining fallen. Don't play dead, possum. In Christ you have been made alive (Col. 2:13
). Play dead to your old, sinful nature or past. But in Christ, even when you sin, don't play dead -- don't remain defeated. In Him you are more than one who has conquered all spiritually negative realities (Rom. 8:37
). "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1
You can avoid re-offending others by rising, and thinking healthy, spiritual thoughts: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil. 4:8
). All offenses begin with thoughts. We are instructed to destroy arguments raised up against the knowledge of God.
But the apostle Paul also added, "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle
raised up against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:5
NRSV, emphasis added). How many thoughts rise up against the reality of God's holy existence and righteous standards? We are taught to destroy such thoughts, to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5
I picture such thoughts as personified. I imagine capturing them, putting them into a prison cell, while Christ stands watch over them as Guard. If I fail to do so, then I may entertain such thoughts, have them affect me emotionally, and then obey them. When I obey them, I sin. "But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved" (James 1:15-16
But when you sin, no matter the degree, take it immediately to Christ. "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9
NRSV). Don't let sin drag you into a hopeless, despondent, dejected place, out of which you feel impossible to escape. By His grace and forgiveness you rise up, and you keep rising up. You don't rise up only once. You will need to rise up every time you fall.
More than that, you will need to rise up every time you think
about a past fall. Such thoughts about your past have a tendency to paralyze you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Paralyzed, you will play dead. No: in Christ you must rise up from the guilt of your past. Though you fall seven times a day, you will rise -- you must
rise (Prov. 24:16
The Lord foreknew every sin you would ever commit when He by grace through faith in Christ saved your soul. You don't ever take Him by surprise by any thought, desire, or action. In Christ He has already declared you holy, sanctified (set apart from the world and for His service and care), and righteous. You don't let Him down because you don't hold Him up.
You are becoming more and more like Christ (Rom. 8:29
), slow as such may seem, and your heavenly Father understands completely all of your eccentricities, particularities, and unique qualities. This is how, you see, you keep on rising. Give your defeats to the One who defeated sin, death, and hell (1 Cor. 15:56-57
; 1 John 3:8
). Give your hopelessness to the God of hope (Rom. 15:13
). Whatever you do, don't play dead, possum, but rise. This post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/saturday-devotion-dont-play-dead.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When I saw this photo of the It'll Do Motel, it reminded me of porn. This may be a fine hotel but it looks like those seedy hotels where porn ends up taking a man.
There was a man who was a Sunday School teacher and on his church board who struggled with porn. He would drive out of town, buy porn and then take it back to his garage where he would fantasize and masturbate. Then, in a fit of guilt, he would burn the porn in a "holy ritual" to get rid of porn's effects. He felt that he had his "addiction" under control because God revealed to him about how to perform this "holy ritual" so that he could still be a "man of God."
One nite, however, his "holy ritual" did not seem to remove his guilt. So, in his fervor, he drove around and ended up at a seedy establishment that promised sexual release. He went into this one room, by himself, where he was to stick a certain part of his anatomy into a hole in the curtain by the wall to be fellated. He imagined a young, beautiful woman on the other side and felt quite satisfied. However, as he was getting dressed, he saw a young man slipping out the side. He was struck with the thought, "what if that was the person and it really wasn't a young, beautiful woman?" The man felt totally devastated and decided that he needed to get professional help. He didn't realize that porn is insidious.
I would say that this man, once deciding to get professional help, did much better for quite a time.
Where did this man learn about porn? His story is consistent with most men's stories. Most men are introduced to porn by finding someone's stash.
He found his father's stash in the garage when he was young boy. It was "just car magazines" but he found himself attracted to the women who posed with these cars and was turned on by their provocative poses. As a young man, these magazines started a lifestyle of wasted time, energy and money, not to mention the toll on his spiritual life.
So, as a man, where are you? Are you looking at porn? Do you have a stash somewhere? Porn will win. It always does. It is stronger than a man's resolve.
I encourage you to get rid of that stash, find another man to be accountable to, talk to your pastor about your decision to get rid of porn. Then get into a men's group that talks about the tough things we men go thru and be open, transparent and accountable. Find a licensed Christian counselor and uncover your motivations so that you can, with God's help, kick porn to the curb.
Stop going to the It'll Do Motel and be a man of God. Go beyond It'll Do and be victorious. Don't squeak by, barely making it.
BE A MAN.