In the quiet moments of the day we sense a nagging within, a discontentment, a hunger for something else. But because we have not solved the riddle of our existence, we assume that something is wrong—not with life, but with us. Everyone else seems to be getting on with things. What's wrong with me? We feel guilty about our chronic disappointment. Why can't I just learn to be happier in my job, in my marriage, in my church, in my group of friends? You see, even while we are doing other things, "getting on with life," we still have an eye out for the life we secretly want. When someone seems to have gotten it together we wonder how did they do it? Maybe if we read the same book, spent time with them, went to their church, things would come together for us as well. You see, we can never entirely give up our quest. As May reminds us,
"When the desire is too much to bear, we often bury it beneath frenzied thoughts and activities or escape it by dulling our immediate consciousness of living. It is possible to run away from the desire for years, even decades, at a time, but we cannot eradicate it entirely. It keeps touching us in little glimpses and hints in our dreams, our hopes, our unguarded moments."
He says that even though we sleep, our desire does not. "It is who we are." We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Not a symphony has been written, a mountain climbed, an injustice fought or a love sustained apart from desire. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize. Our desire, if we will listen to it, will save us from committing soul-suicide, the sacrifice of our hearts on the altar of "getting by." The same old thing is not enough. It never will be.
This post is excerpted from the book, Desire by John Eldredge
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Most Christians today like to say that all sins are “equal” in the eyes of God, that there is no scale of less or worse sins, that a white lie or a homicide alike would have been enough to require Christ to die on the cross. We say this in theory, but in practice, we know that a white lie won’t get you kicked off the church leadership team. And a homicide likely will.
In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough. Or, in an uglier terminology, what is known as gluttony.
When I think about gluttony, I think about my desire to shove a dozen donuts into my mouth and wash them down with chocolate milk. Or perhaps it’s my tendency to mindlessly feed chips to a stomach that’s no longer hungry. Many of us can look at the sin of gluttony and think, “That’s not really my struggle.” Or, we think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, most congregations have compulsive over-eaters among them, and they’re not considered “less spiritual” or “backslidden” for it.
But gluttony has never been merely an addiction to food. And if we look at it in its original definition and context, gluttony becomes far closer to home than we’d like to admit.
At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess. It occurs when taste overrules hunger, when want outweighs need. And in America, where upsizing has always been part of the American dream, it’s often difficult to distinguish what is hard-earned achievement and what is indulgent excess. In this sense, even the most athletic and toned among us can be gluttons. Any of us can be.
All desire for excess stems from a lack of satisfaction. I’m not satisfied with my portion—be it the portion on my plate, in the marriage bed, or in my bank account. Because I’m not satisfied with my portion, I then seek a greater portion. But because every portion is a finite part of a finite whole, I am constantly chasing an excess that can never satisfy.
This is the story of Genesis 3. What was the sin in the Garden of Eden if not a desire for excess? Adam and Eve were given beautiful sights and beautiful tastes in the absence of shame, but what made the garden a paradise was not any of this. It was a paradise because God walked in the cool of the day with them. And yet, Adam and Eve’s downfall was because they deemed even this as not enough. They weren’t content with their portion of paradise, and they reached out—to disastrous consequence—for more.
Like them, we are ravenous beings. We embody bottomless cravings that constantly paw at the next attractive thing. Our appetites are as strong as death, Proverbs 27:20 tells us. We are always on the move for the next thing that can satisfy and slake our restless thirst. This endless pull is the engine of gluttony. It propels our souls ever toward excess.
And yet, the desire for “more” is not inherently bad, but it is often misdirected. What we need is a relentless appetite for the divine. We need a holy ravenousness. Our craving souls can turn and become enthralled by a goodness that is found in the presence of an all-glorious God. There is only one infinite source of satisfaction that can satisfy our bottomless cravings.
A taste of His supreme grace is enough to lure an appetite long held prisoner to lesser portions. If stolen water is sweet, lavished grace is sweeter.
And here’s a strange side effect: The more we drink deeply of the endless love of an infinite God, the more our tastes will be changed. The deep bright marrow of grace will drip down into the restless souls of the ever-hungry.
In pursuit of lesser portions, our tastes have dulled. We’ve become numb to our real hungers, filling them with lesser fare. But when we return to the source, we taste anew.
Psalm 34:8 challenges us to see the difference for ourselves: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I think Paul understood this verse when he told the people at Lystra that God gives food and gladness so that our hearts would turn from vain things and turn to the ultimate satisfaction of who God is (Acts 14:15-17).
Consequently, if God has ordained that His goodness can be tasted and seen (and, I would submit, heard, smelled and touched), this has at least two direct implications. First, it means that every finite pleasure and satisfaction is meant to point us toward the infinite pleasure and satisfaction of God. My admiration for a sunset, then, need not stop at that horizon, rather it can curve upward into praise and gratitude. Second, it means that if our desire for "more" is misplaced, then certainly it can be redirected to something good as well.
Is the desire for excess sinful? It depends on whether the soul is addicted to a finite excess or an infinite excess. Do we ever think of gorging on God? Do we relish the chance to spend a few more minutes in prayer, hidden away from the world for just one more taste of the divine? When was the last time we lingered long over the pages of an open Bible because we just couldn’t stop admiring the honeyed flavor of an ancient truth? If the Bible is the story of the only infinite good, why do we spend so much of our lives at lesser tables?
We Christians have so tamed our enjoyment in God that we cannot fathom what such thrill-seeking would even look like. Feasting on God is as foreign to most Americans as an empty stomach. Why can’t we fix our souls on the only goodness who can handle our cravings? Why do we chase the more mild flavors of money, food and sex?
If only we would not stifle our gluttonous cravings, but turn them in the right direction. If only we would feast on an infinite God who offers fullness of life, rather than these lesser tables with the far milder flavors of money, sex, food and power.
As George MacDonald put it, “Sometimes I wake and, lo, I have forgot.” Sleep is like a reset button and my hunger is misdirected often. I think I’m hungry for the finite, but I’m really hungry for God. To remember, we need to taste daily, deeply and constantly of the goodness of God. So let us turn together, and feast rightly.This post was written by Jason Todd of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/socially-acceptable-sin
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It is strangely ironic that the freedoms and affluence we enjoy in our society are the very things that stand to ruin our children if not addressed early and effectively.
The consumer-credit industry is doing all it can to get your kids to fall for the buy-now, pay-later lifestyle. If you do nothing to intervene, statistics indicate that your child is headed for a life that will be severely impacted not by credit—credit is not the problem here—but by the debt it can create.
When the following three characteristics occur at the same time in the heart and mind of a child, they create a kind of “perfect storm” that has all the likelihood of creating a disastrous situation:
For our debt-proofing purposes, “entitlement” is that demanding attitude that says, “I deserve it now even if I haven’t earned it or cannot pay for it.” Some call it the gimmes, others the I-wants. No matter what you call it, this attitude is running rampant, and not only among kids. Entitlement affects kids and adults alike.
- attitudes of entitlement
- financial ignorance
- glamour of easy spending
Entitlement is subtle. It creeps into our lives when we compare our lifestyles and possessions to those of the people we respect and want to be like. It shows up in new parents who throw all caution to the wind when it comes to nursery furnishings and “mandatory” equipment. It shows up in two-income families who, because they work so hard, feel they deserve to have nice things. It shows up in adults who feel compelled to conform to society’s relentless ratcheting up of standards.
Entitlement is the standard message of marketing and advertising. Look carefully at everything that shows up in your mailbox this week. The message to keep up is relentless. The push for conformity creates attitudes of dissatisfaction and entitlement.
At every turn it seems something or someone is fanning the flames of entitlement in our lives—and our children’s lives too.
Attitudes of entitlement, both yours and your children’s, are an enemy that, if not dealt with, will surely sabotage your efforts to develop financial confidence in your kids.
A frugal lifestyle, where you live below your means, is the best environment in which to raise kids. When children observe their parents consuming carefully, making wise spending decisions, choosing not to buy the biggest and the best, and not living on credit, they begin to assimilate those values.
By telling your children, “We don’t choose to spend our money on that,” you send a positive message that you have money but make intelligent choices about how to spend it.
Clearly, attitudes of entitlement are a serious problem. But they are not terminal. Diligent parents who are willing to be consistent examples and limit setters will find success in tearing down attitudes that have the potential to do great harm.
Excerpted from Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt (Revell, 2012).
To go to this post on Mary Hunt's site, click here.
BE A MAN.
I’m pro-marriage. I always have been, always will be and I’ll make no apologies for it. As a matter of fact, most of you should be apologizing to me. Yeah, I said it. Whether you're one with a successful marriage who's remained silent on its myriad virtues, or merely a single, lonely critic... America, you've got some 'splaining to do.
Sadly, marriage has become a punchline in today’s society. From referring to the wife as “the old ball and chain” to nearly every poorly written sitcom that we watch, the message we’re sending to today’s generation is clear… Marriage = no fun.
Men on TV constantly joke about how wives are incredibly expensive, demanding and overall vacuums of all things fun. By that same token, the women complain about their fat, lazy, insensitive husbands as they swoon over their trimmed, manicured and chest-waxed Hollywood counterparts.
Ever see a commercial with a wife and husband shopping together? Yeah, we always play the idiot.
I know plenty of people my age that will never get married because they genuinely believe the false cultural meme that marriage has sadly become. There’s only one problem. It’s completely untrue.
Even more of a problem, those who know it to be untrue often do nothing to correct the lie.
As someone who comes from a family of lifers (along with my wife), I just want to say, flat out…
… Marriage is a really good deal.
Let’s assume for a second that you don’t think of humans as inherently spiritual beings. So let’s remove the fact that married people claim to be happier, more fulfilled, complete and purposeful. Some of you are even thinking,
“Love? Who needs love!”
Okay. Here are a few purely statistical reasons as to why marriage (when done correctly) is conducive to an undeniably better life. Hold onto your butts.
1. You’ll be richer – Yes. Not only do married couples make more, save more, have a higher net worth and qualify for more benefits/financial incentives than lonely, single folk… but your kids will be richer too. Which brings me to my next point
2. Would somebody please think of the children!! – The single biggest indicator of child poverty is whether both original parents are still together. Not only that, but children in married households get better grades, are less disruptive in class and less likely to develop behavioral disorders than children from non-married households. So be married long and prosper. Your kids will too.
3. You’ll have more sex… A LOT MORE SEX – Okay so you may not want kids. You may despise them. I get it. Sticky hands. Let’s say you’re just another selfish, narcissistic bachelor (or bachelorette) who quite frankly, isn’t deserving of the unconditional love you may oh-so-luckily find. You just want the sex. Statistically, not only do married people have more sex, they have better, more satisfying sex. If the two of you should hold off on sex until marriage, those statistics become even more promising. Here’s a perfect example of where Hollywood gets it wrong. In the real world, while Alfie fruitlessly toiled away at picking up harlots from the bar, suffering a mean case of whiskey-wiener, Mr. Cleaver was getting busy on the regular. Them’s the real breaks.
4. You won’t be such a pathetic sloth – Married people are more productive. Married men in particular, have higher employment rates, work longer hours and receive better wages. It’s time to stop wading through puddles of your own filth as you reach for the hotpockets and have a dame whip you into shape. You’re welcome.
5. Don’t die sick, miserable and alone. This would seem to be self-explanatory. Sadly, it’s not. Young people think that being young and single is the “fun and free” time of your life, while marriage is something that can wait for the days when you’re ready to grow fat, boring and settle down. Married people not only live longer lives, they live healthier lives. There are too many factors at play here to even list. From married people statistically maintaining healthier weights, being more active and having lower mortality rates, to married women incurring less severe illnesses, enjoying better cancer survival rates and of course… lower rates of domestic abuse (as opposed to those merely cohabitating). Yes ladies, it’s true, living with an uncommitted, self-absorbed jackass can be hazardous to your health.
All of this to basically say that people need to start being more honest and vocal about the virtues of marriage. Americans need to stop feeding and buying into the lie that we’ve all been fed. Whether you’re young old, male, female, marriage (when done correctly) will make your life, and this country better off. The facts are undeniable. If the facts aren’t enough, maybe this’ll help…
Picture coming home every night to your best friend, your greatest fan, and your number one supporter. She (or he) makes each good day better, and each bad day good again. Every day, you get to live what is essentially a 24/7 sleepover party with the greatest friend you’ve ever had.
… Now add sex and sandwiches.
Get married, like, now.
This post was written by Steve Crowder. For the original post, go to: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/26/man-top-5-reasons-to-grow-up-and-get-married/
BE A MAN.
Last week was anti-porn week here at Ironstrikes. I hope that you were able to read about the five topics:1. Porn and sexual satisfaction2. Porn and fake relationships3. Porn and women4. Porn and cruelty5. Porn is insidious
Readers have asked about the Zillman-Bryant study from which these five posts were taken. In the early 1980s, Dr. Doll Zillmann of Indiana University and Dr. Jennings Bryant of the University of Alabama wondered whether continued exposure to video pornography had any impact on people's sexual beliefs and their attitudes towards women. For their experiment, 80 male and 80 female college-age participants were divided into three subgroups, and each group was shown 4 hours and 48 minutes of media.
1. The first group, the “Massive Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-violent pornographic films over a six-week period.
2. The second group, the “Intermediate Exposure Group,” was exposed to 18 pornographic films and 18 regular films over a six-week period.
3. The third (control) group, the “No Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-pornographic movies over a six--week periodYou may be saying, "that is an old study, what relevance does it have to today?"
At a 2011 conference, Dr. Mary Anne Layden commented about Zillmann and Bryant’s 25-year-old research. “When this study was done, what was called the ‘Massive Exposure Group" -- seeing five hours of porn over a six-week period -- "I now call that the Friday Afternoon Group."
Her statement is far from an exaggeration. A recent survey of 29,000 people at North American universities, shows 51% of men and 16% of women spend up to five hours per week
online for sexual purposes, and another 11% of men spend anywhere from five to twenty hours per week. What used to be “massive” exposure is now common practice.
Furthermore, the Internet has not only increased the public’s exposure to porn, but has also changed the way it is consumed. Dr. Jill Manning believes Zillmann and Bryant’s findings have greater
applicability in the modern age because Internet porn tends to be more interactive and consumer-driven. Viewers can select exactly who and what they want to see, custom-tailored to their greatest specifications.This week, I will be giving four solid tips in helping to curb your vulnerability to porn.
This post is taken from the booklet, YOUR BRAIN ON PORN
by Luke Gilkerson. The booklet can be found at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Does porn really not satisfy? I think many people would argue that it actually does satisfy and that is why they dig it. So maybe we are into a case of semantics here. What does it mean to be satisfied? I have had a couple of friends tell me that they would look at porn for
8 hours at a time without a break for days in a row. It was a full time job for them.
Would you say that they were satisfied?
Satisfaction is a completion. When a debt is fully paid we say it is satisfied. When we eat a meal and are full, we say we are satisfied. Satisfaction is closely related to contentment. We are satiated, our content is full. I don’t know about you but I would describe my 34 year addiction to porn as a state of discontentment. I was not satisfied with anything. Nothing filled me. I was always looking for something else, whether it was a different kind of porn, a different look, a different car, a different job, and different friends, whatever. When I found porn that I liked, I wanted more. I was never satisfied.
So why is porn like drinking seawater to slake our thirst? What we are looking for is for someone to love us, to want us, to say that we are the man and really mean it. We are looking for relationship. We are looking for a god that will meet these very real needs we have to be valued, acknowledged, respected, and desired. Porn is a lie. Porn says, “I love you, I want you, you are the man” but we know it is a lie because those people don’t even know us. They only do what they do to get something from us, our money. We sacrifice everything to those gods, our time, our money, our families, our jobs, our health, and our mental well-being and they don’t deliver on their promise. We keep on sacrificing hoping that someday they will come through and we will be satisfied, content, and whole.
Being an engineer, I always come back to design. We are designed to be completed in real relationships with real people. The only god whose opinion of us that matters is the Creator God and He has already said, “I love you” in the most dramatic and authentic way that is ever possible, by taking on human flesh and dying on a cross to pay our sin debt so we can be in relationship with Him. Porn tears us away from real relationships with real people, just ask my friend who thought porn would add spice to his marriage but lost his marriage instead.
When God instructed us to have no other gods before Him, to love Him with our whole being, and to love other people as we love ourselves, He was not being a selfish idiot. He designed us to be complete when we are in relationship with Him and with our fellow human beings. I know, I am repeating myself. I want you to get this. In my relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ is where I have found satisfaction and contentment. That is what I want for you.
This post was written by Brian McGuinness. The original post with comments can be found at: http://www.xxxchurch.com/men/why-porn-does-not-satisfy.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.