tuesday june 21, 2011
.is purity really worth it?
This entry was sent to me by a friend of mine and I was blown away by the shear rawness and clarity with which he stakes a claim for purity for us guys. He first lists 25 reasons that purity is worth it, posing a set of three questions that we can ask for each issue. He then shares his journal entry from the day he considered Reason #8. Enjoy.
There are three main factors that draw people into the Internet porn: Accessibility, Affordability, and Anonymity. Like a three-legged stool: kick out one of the legs and it will fall. – Alvin Cooper
Pornography causes impotence—an inability to function with your own sexual power. – Dr. Judith Reisman
You’re either going to give in and go for it, and sacrifice everything for pixels on the screen, or you make a commitment to what’s real – John Mandeville
Blessed are the pure, for they will see God. – Jesus
1. God’s relationship with me.
2. My relationship with God.
3. My relationship with the world.
4. God’s relationship with the world.
5. My relationship with my family.
6. My relationship with my guy friends.
7. My relationship with my girl friends.
8. My relationship with my future wife.
9. My relationship with my future kids.
10. My joy.
11. My patience.
12. My devotional life.
13. My ministry.
14. My worship leading.
15. My song writing.
16. My discipline.
17. My clarity.
18. My present.
19. My future.
20. My hopes and dreams.
21. My intimacy.
22. My personality.
23. My freedom.
24. My manhood.
25. My time.
What effect does sexual impurity have on each one of those things?
What are the benefits to being pure in this context?
What are the consequences for being impure in this context?
8. My relationship with my future wife.
Could this get any more important? No. Not except my relationship with God. Jesus I picture her in my mind. Sometimes she’s blonde with a beautiful smile. Sometimes she’s brunette with a mischievous grin on her face. Her beautiful body tantalizing me as only a woman’s can. She knows her power but it is under control, she is God’s woman. She is gorgeous and wonderful and the women want to be like her and the men want to be with her, but she has chosen me. She has her share of scars and hurts, rejections and embarrassments, but her eyes are on you Lord. She is available. She is a leader. She is your daughter in every way. I don’t know if I know this girl. I can’t wait to meet her. Hopefully she can’t wait to meet me either. It excites me, inside and out. But she is a treasure, a gift that is worth protecting even when I don’t know her. Jesus, you know that you haven’t given any woman to me at this point that I really have taken to. I know what it is to like a girl, and it just hasn’t happened. I think there is a clear message from you regarding this. Wait. Wait Jesse wait. You are not ready. There are more important things to do. I have too much to learn. I have too much that I need to focus on that will not deter me. A woman is distracting for sure! But, the things that I’m learning directly impact that relationship. I’m learning courage. I’m learning to make decisions outside of emotion. I’m learning purity and focus. I’m learning resolve. I’m in a state of flux right now. It is little wonder God doesn’t want a woman in it yet. There is too much riding on me becoming pure, loving God and finding my way. She needs me to be doing this. It is intense and difficult. But she doesn’t want some guy that isn’t focused, disciplined or pure. She needs a man that she can cast herself onto, who will be strength and leadership in the relationship. She needs a man that will hear from God, listen and obey. I have only just begun. I am a baby. I am focused, but to what end? I need to fall deeper in love with you Jesus. You will help bring a woman to me who is similarly aligned. I have much to offer her, but only because you have offered yourself to me. Your truth courses through my veins. When I am pure my wife and I will have intimacy that I have never experienced. We will communicate, physically, vocally, emotionally and spiritually. It will work together. Not perfectly, but together. Love can grow from that. A home can be built on that. I will be more patient and encouraging. I won’t try to hide away from bad days. I will let her in completely. There are no closets that are dark and hidden from her heart. She will probe like you probe Jesus; she will find the places that are deep and hidden. She will want to come in and help me clean those out. How much better if I am already clean? She will have solid ground which to plant herself. She will feel respected and loved because I embrace her, but also because I have done some very hard work before I even knew her, both for her sake, and for our God. She will feel protected because there is no competition. What happens when I am impure? The same things that happen now will be magnified. If I am impatient, discouraged, annoyed, angry, shamed, hidden or whatever else, she will feel it. She will take responsibility when the responsibility was never hers. While the secret stays secret she will feel that she did something wrong when all along it was my own sin that kept me from loving her. Walls go up, communication breaks down; intimacy takes a nosedive. She feels it. She hurts because of it. Her man is MIA. She loses security; she doesn’t feel loved. Her hedge of protection has cracks in it and she won’t know what to do. She will despair because I will deny her the facts. She knows it, but can’t force me to speak. She doesn’t know what she has done. She searches in vain for her weakness. It kills her. I deny her myself. She feels rejected and alone. She will turn to Jesus, but she will miss her husband. Her heart will break because she cannot have the openness that should be there. Her calls for sex, once greedily accepted, are now rebuffed. My silence is deafening. She wonders whether she should have signed up for this marriage thing at all. Her heart is shared and she can’t take it back, nor does she want to. But she wants my heart to fill in what she has given me. I am sullen. I have stolen from her. My heart is ready to explode because I long to be whole with her. Truth is the vehicle in which purity rides along the road of communication. I long to talk to her, to cry, but I can’t. She won’t understand. I will be rejected. I don’t figure that she already feels rejected. After all, this whole immorality thing is based on one thing: me. I have just forgotten. My robotic actions and plastic answers do nothing to nullify her pain. She works hard to stay above water, to love me despite me. She is in it for the long haul, hoping, quietly begging God to free me from my silence. The walls loom large, and I have too much pride to tear them down. I am no leader. I am a pretender. She can barely make it through church because my mask goes on. I am the worship leader or usher or guy in the pew-next-door. I am happy, I am spiritual, I am dead when I get home. Exhausted from the exertion of being someone else for a couple hours, the TV goes on and my brain goes out. She sees my hypocrisy and despises it. Her bitterness moves up a notch. In my quiet moments I am horrified. I try not to be quiet often. I catch glimpses of the suffocation I am causing. These moments of clarity grow. My pride swiftly runs to catch up. The voices inside my head say no! Don’t tell! There is too much at stake! But slowly, I can no longer function. I am dead inside. I can’t stand to be near her. Her once beautiful form is a reminder of what I gave up. There have been too many women before my eyes recently; her intoxication has been desensitized in me. But somewhere, deep down, the spark is there. I know it is. I know how to get it back. Repentance. The dreaded word. I shove it down. No, I can’t go there. I can control it. Hahaha, yeah right, and Jesse, you can fly too. She has stopped trying to come onto me. She knows that she will just be disappointed. We are both robotic now. She has to in order to stay alive with me. The heavenly intimacy of our home has been turned into a dollhouse filled with plastic wanna-be’s and empty platitudes. I know it is my fault. She has done nothing wrong. I finally accept it. I’m past the place of denial: She hasn’t given herself to me enough. She didn’t do this or that and it drove me away. I deserve to be happy. No, none of it works anymore. My pride is dying, it’s running out of energy. I have forgotten that Jesus doesn’t run out of energy. He doesn’t ever stop. He is the hunting dog that stops at nothing to claim his goal. Truth is catching up. I can’t ram it down into my heart anymore. There isn’t space. The dark closet that my impurity once was is now an entire floor of my spiritual house. It’s hard to keep it hidden. I hear Jesus in the bushes now. He is closer, louder, gathering strength. I know what is coming. The secrets will be spilled. I now know it is inevitable. I know he will hit me like a hurricane. I have become brittle. He is going to dash me into a million pieces. I know that in a few days I will be completely undone. God is coming and there is no stopping it. I try to brace myself, inwardly, outwardly. I read more of the Bible, trying to get in tune with my Savior again. I soften towards my wife. She notices. A welcome change. Maybe she thinks we have turned a corner. She has no idea what’s coming. I want to prepare her, but I can’t. It just happens. It blindsides her. It blindsides me. I tell her of the habits and the websites. I tell her of the secret daydreaming. I tell her of the masturbation and the thrill of secret sin. I tell her the lies. I tell her about denying her. I tell her of the pride and the secret looks. It takes forever. I can’t get it all out. It takes a couple of days. She’s a mess. She isn’t plastic. I’m not plastic. We are more like melted plastic all over the floor. She can’t look at me, talk to me, forget touching me. Her makeup is everywhere. The house is a mess. We barely can handle being at work. I am so scared of going home. There is more she must hear. I know it breaks her, but she needs to hear it. I tell her more. She is angry. Furious. She hits me. She screams and cries…loud, broken, furious cries. She is shaking uncontrollably. Her face red and creased. Her teeth are gritted. If a beautiful woman could snarl, this would be it. It would be funny if I wasn’t scared half to death. I’m afraid for her. I’m afraid for me! I’m sitting on the floor. I can’t say anything but I’m sorry but I do it quietly because I know it’s not enough, but there are tears. Tears! There is emotion inside of me! It is not quite funny, the contrast in our demeanors. She is a tidal wave. She is reflecting the Hurricane that came. I am a whimpering whisper, far from the hero she married. She is the ferocity that I married. Her anger is terrifying and incredible. I am broken, but wide-eyed to this presence in front of me. As only a woman can, she changes course, breaks into tears and sobs and sobs and sobs inconsolably. Her entire heart pouring out with her tears. All of the plastic living is washed away in a sea of gut-wrenching weeping. It is almost as terrible as the tidal wave. Finally we are sitting. I feel…better. It is terrible to say. All I can do is pray for my house. Wow, its been a long time since I have done that! The Hurricane has become a whisper and the sweet semblance of connection with my God is just starting to appear. But even though it is just cracks, the fresh air is unbelievable. I drink it in. I cry. She stares at me. I sob, big tears. I want to hold her but she isn’t there yet. I cry for my wrecked marriage, my home that I defiled, the plasticity, the masks, the hypocrisy, the excuses, all of it. I cried before but this is God-fed crying. This is breathing in new air and freeing emotion from the spaces that have fed on only dust and poison. She needs to see me like this. I am human again. She is human again. God is here. Nothing is going to stop me from getting this right. Never before have I loved someone more than in that moment when she sat there watching me. She didn’t leave. She watched. She is stronger than I am. I adore her. Everything that I fell in love with comes rushing back. We talk. It starts small. The tears dry. It becomes a cadence. I tell her almost everything again, but we are human again, exhausted, but human. There is no yelling. There is freedom. Our emotions are spent but our hearts are filling. We are living together again, breathing in the same God again. We stay on the floor, it’s just where we are. On the floor. I don’t want to be anywhere else. The floor is nice. Having no pride is nicer. After so long it takes a few hours to get to know each other again. Did I mention that she is the most gorgeous thing on the planet? I can’t take my eyes away. There is a lot of work to be done, but I’m…lighter. Ready now.
wednesday november 24, 2010
My boyfriend and I were talking about the topic of masturbation, and that the world says it's totally natural and even good, but the church says it's not. Does scripture directly deal with this issue?
If you look up masturbation on-line, you will find very different opinions. Some think that all masturbation is just fine; others think that the more the better; still others think it is pure evil. But, let’s be very careful about how we sift this topic through the filter of Scripture and collectively agree to “not lean on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:6). In other words, let’s not formulate our view of masturbation based on what we feel about it, or what we hope God thinks about it, or what may be convenient to reinforce our already chosen behaviors. Let’s stick to what Scripture teaches us, period. What we do with what Scripture says is up to us and between us and God. As Romans 14:12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.”
Most people agree that Scripture says nothing directly about masturbation. I concur. But Scripture also does not say anything about many other topics, including chewing gum, driving cars, drinking gasoline, or mowing yards. But it does give us plenty of principles with which we can determine whether we engage in these behaviors and if so, how we engage in them.
Since Scripture does not explicitly say “thou shall not masturbate”, I cannot say that it is always, without exception, a sin. But I think this is the wrong perspective anyway. Many of our choices reveal deeper core sins in our lives, including pride, lust, or greed. So, could masturbation be a symptom of a deeper sin in our life? Certainly. Do you look at porn in any form (internet, TV, print) while masturbating? Psalm 101:3 "I will set no unclean thing before my eyes." Do you mentally process images of women in your mind while masturbating? Matthew 5:28 "If a man looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart." If you can answer yes to either of these questions, then you have a lust issue. This could not be any clearer.
On the other hand, could someone masturbate in purity and integrity before God? Possibly. Is it physically possible to masturbate without lusting or looking at porn? Some guys claim that they can do this routinely. Others claim it is impossible. I think it is possible, but highly unlikely. If you think you can pull this off, I encourage you to study your motives and thoughts before, during, and after masturbation carefully. Here are some motives perhaps you have heard or used yourself.
“It helps relieve stress”
“It releases pressure”
“It helps me with the pain that builds”
“It keeps my lust in check”
I’m sure some of the great men of the Bible made these same arguments, especially the last one. David and Solomon both thought that by getting a few more wives and concubines to satisfy them, their sex drive would be under control. They came to find out that it only increased. So, they got more wives and concubines to help curtail the sex drive. And their drive and lust continued to increased. So, they got more wives and….see the pattern? Have you lived it? You start with some soft TV porn (fitness shows, MTV spring break footage, swimsuit pageants, music videos), then you want more. So, you move to internet porn. But eventually that doesn’t do it for you (see David and Solomon’s old wives). So, you look for some hard core porn to bring on the endorphins you crave. Eventually, you need even more. Carry this out and men find yourself at a strip club, with a prostitute, in an extra marital affair, and even worse, committing rape. Left to our own, this is where our sin can and does go.
I have made these arguments in my own life. I have doubted God’s ability to relieve my stress (Do not be anxious for anything, but in prayer and supplication make your requests known to God, Phil 4:6). I have doubted God’s ability to help me release pressure/pain (ever had a wet dream for no reason?). I have tried to rationalize that it helps decrease lust (see David and Solomon above who also believed this lie). Then 11 years ago, I realized that I was kidding myself if I thought I could masturbate without lusting, especially with the images I had already filled my head with. So, I simply stopped. Stopped porn. Stopped masturbating. This was not my doing, but the power of the Spirit of Christ in me. I could not conquer this on my own and have talked to dozens of guys who have tried to beat this on their own through behavior modification. This is a fruitless effort. It is only through Christ that we have any hope of winning this battle. Don’t just know about this power. Many have starved to death knowing about food. Ask God to reveal this power to you. It’s already part of you, as a follower of Christ. Just claim it.
Let the words of God captured by Paul in 1 Cor. 10:31 sink in…”Whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER (emphasis mine) you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This means driving your car, mowing your yard, studying for your tests – they all need to be done for the glory of God. If you choose to masturbate, can you glorify God in it? The answer better be yes. Motive (read, heart) is everything for God. Is your heart ready to battle for purity, integrity, and character? Is your heart ready to battle for the women in your life? I sure hope so, otherwise we are nothing but disarmed soldiers, enslaved to our own lusts and pride, unable to survive the attacks of the enemy. And that is not becoming of the warrior God calls us to be.
friday august 28, 2009
I have a question about physical intimacy between Christian females. I’m not sure if this is something common with Christian girls or what, but it concerns me. I’m referring to cuddling, touching, long hugs, etc. It doesn’t appear very sexual, but if I was dating a girl and she did any one of these things with a guy it would definitely be regarded as cheating. Is it different if she does it with a girl? Some people have commented that if they didn’t know the girls, they would have thought that they were lesbians.
tuesday april 7, 2009
.in a mess
I've got some heavy stuff going on in my life. I'm addicted to porn and masturbation, I'm going to just call it what is and be straight. I need some help in my life, I feel like I'm going nowhere. I would call many years of near daily viewing or dirty thoughts and masturbating an addiction. I feel a great sense of purposelessness and no direction in my life; it's strange because I am, (and feel less and less like) a front liner; I am the example in my church, the guy all the little guys wanted to be like, and whose moms wanted them to be like too. I am the guy all the girls’ moms wanted their daughter to marry. I'm the good guy, a missionary, caring, my life shows that. I've had girl trouble thought; a nasty breakup a few years back that I feel really backstabbed from, it seems like a black mark on my life, made me feel like I couldn't do a relationship. And then recently I broke off my engagement with my fiancé, a girl I thought I was going to marry (obviously) and who still loves me dearly, but I feel I am in no place to get married and have little heart to fight for this girl and for my future - I feel desolate and hopeless honestly, I don't know what I'm missing. I never dated or messed around with girls outside of porn , but my fiancé and I toed the line until it became grey and the invisible. We're still virgins, but I feel like I've let sexual sin just shoot down the best parts of my life. I'm searching for truth, I'm looking for my heart and what I want to do in life, be it work, school, continue in missions, but I don't have passion right now and I can't drag this girl around and let her hope for us when I don't know where I am going. I'm in a good paying job that has gotten old; I want to just get away and move across country but I think I’ll get into trouble with another girl, take her purity and be left with nothing but an experience and lost time.
wednesday november 19, 2008
.thrill of the chase
I really need some advice and guidance about something in my life that has been burdening my heart for some time now. I have been praying and thinking about this alot but its driving me crazy and I can't seem to stop my actions. For a while I was struggling with lust but from reading the word praying and memorizing verses I have really learned to "bounce my eyes" from temptation. The thing that I have been struggling with though deals with the subject of chasing girls. I have been single for so long and have been so happy with that and always said that the girl of my dreams would just walk in on me one day; but recently it feels like a switch was turned on and I can't stop trying to seek as much attention from girls as I can. And it's not just a particular girl, or a few girls, its seems to be any girl I find attractive that crosses my path, I try to get their attention in any way I can even if its just by a subtle smile, or simply a "hi". I have fell into a trap of giving my phone number to all these girls who I hardly even know their names, yet alone if they are Christians or not. The problem also comes when I aquire these numbers. It's not even that I want to pursue them, its just the "thrill of the chase" as a friend of mine put it to me. I get them, we text back and forth, maybe a call or two, a trip to Starbucks s and that's it, I try and break it off. I realize how big of a problem this is. I know that all girls are children of God but I am failing to live out this way of thinking. Why am I seeking all this attention from all these random girls? And most importantly why all of a sudden? I feel like I'm giving a bad impression to my christian friends and coworkers when they see me do this day in and day out as I even do it at my job while I'm working. I clearly see the wrong in these actions but I get so caught up and worried about what every girl who even walks past me thinks of me that I get so lost and overwhelmed let alone my extremely high cell phone bill at the end of the month! I need to put these actions to rest and give my full attention to God and his son who doesn't care about what anyone thinks about me, only how I live for him. If you have any advice to help battle this, it would really help. Thanks for the question - it is somewhat related to the previous post. I don't think this kind of situation is unique to you...in fact, I know it isn't, because I have talked to other guys about this kind of struggle. Let's bottom line it, this behavior is not becoming of a Christ follower and certainly does not demonstrate Jesus to the guys watching you, or the girls you interact with. It may actually push them further away from Jesus. Let that one sink in for a bit...that you are pushing - actually shoving - people further away from Jesus with this addiction for attention. But to some extent, we all long for attention. The problem is we look in the wrong places for the attention. Psalm 16:4 speaks to our misplaced scavenger hunt, "The sorrors of those will increase who run after other gods." The mental, emotional, and spiritual struggles you are having will only continue to increase as you run after other gods in the form of attention from these girls. The only attention that will ever be enough is that from Jesus. I'm not sure what you are looking for in these girls, but according to Eph. 3:11, it is in Christ only that we find out who we are and what we are all about. You won't find your purpose, your hope, your meaning, your manhood, your confidence, or your esteem in these girls....or in the pursuit of these girls. It sounds like your pursuit is part of your grand plan to find a girlfriend and eventual wife. Are those your plans or God's plans? God tells us to first commit our future to him and then our plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3 "Commit your ways to the Lord and your plans will succeed"). Are you commiting your future to God? I know we can all say "yea, sure, God's got my future" but do you really mean it? Because if you did, your behavior and decisions would reflect that. Your thrill would be in the chasing of God, not skirts. You would get way more jacked up when you hear from the Ruler and Creator of the Universe compared to when you hear from any of these girls. Your contentment would come from living a disciplined life in the Kingdom rather than the collection of more phone numbers on your cell. If you are having trouble figuring out how to get the right perspective about this in your life, take a look at Jesus' life - there are many places of the gospels where women were around him and part of the group of people following him (e.g., the woman with the alabaster jar in Matthew 26; Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary, and Joanna among other women at the tomb in Mark 16, Luke 24; Mary and Martha in Luke 10; the Samaritan woman in John 4, the women travelling with Jesus in Luke 8)......and you have to figure that there were many others who were clamoring for his attention. Study his mission - his purpose - his compassion and his spiritual eyes. He knew that the man side of his God-man existence was not the answer for any woman. But the God side of his existence was all the answer they needed. Part of your existence is still flesh, as indicated in Romans 2:29 (similar to how circumcision leaves a piece of skin, so too does circumcision of the heart leave a remnant of the flesh). But you are also defined by your spiritual existence in Christ. Let your spiritual existence be what you portray to women. When God wants to bring the right woman into your life, your heart for God will be what they will be most attracted to, I promise you. They will see a guy being defined and refined by Jesus in not only his words, but his actions, decisions, discipline, and how you honor women as opposed to 'playin' them. This will take discipline...which at first may be quite difficult, but go after God hard on this one and ask him to give you that discipline and to start seeing women how he sees them....and he will do it. He did it with me and still does it with me, so I know he can do it with you and will. Not to mention the truth of Matthew 6:21 (for where your treasure is there your heart will be also) that is on display here. Your treasure is supporting the pursuit and therefore your heart is locked up there as well. By re-focusing your attention, you will help re-store your treasure in order to re-align your heart. Keep me informed about the renovation that goes on in your life with this issue.
I really need some advice and guidance about something in my life that has been burdening my heart for some time now. I have been praying and thinking about this alot but its driving me crazy and I can't seem to stop my actions. For a while I was struggling with lust but from reading the word praying and memorizing verses I have really learned to "bounce my eyes" from temptation. The thing that I have been struggling with though deals with the subject of chasing girls. I have been single for so long and have been so happy with that and always said that the girl of my dreams would just walk in on me one day; but recently it feels like a switch was turned on and I can't stop trying to seek as much attention from girls as I can. And it's not just a particular girl, or a few girls, its seems to be any girl I find attractive that crosses my path, I try to get their attention in any way I can even if its just by a subtle smile, or simply a "hi". I have fell into a trap of giving my phone number to all these girls who I hardly even know their names, yet alone if they are Christians or not.
The problem also comes when I aquire these numbers. It's not even that I want to pursue them, its just the "thrill of the chase" as a friend of mine put it to me. I get them, we text back and forth, maybe a call or two, a trip to Starbucks s and that's it, I try and break it off. I realize how big of a problem this is. I know that all girls are children of God but I am failing to live out this way of thinking. Why am I seeking all this attention from all these random girls? And most importantly why all of a sudden? I feel like I'm giving a bad impression to my christian friends and coworkers when they see me do this day in and day out as I even do it at my job while I'm working. I clearly see the wrong in these actions but I get so caught up and worried about what every girl who even walks past me thinks of me that I get so lost and overwhelmed let alone my extremely high cell phone bill at the end of the month! I need to put these actions to rest and give my full attention to God and his son who doesn't care about what anyone thinks about me, only how I live for him. If you have any advice to help battle this, it would really help.
Thanks for the question - it is somewhat related to the previous post. I don't think this kind of situation is unique to you...in fact, I know it isn't, because I have talked to other guys about this kind of struggle.
Let's bottom line it, this behavior is not becoming of a Christ follower and certainly does not demonstrate Jesus to the guys watching you, or the girls you interact with. It may actually push them further away from Jesus. Let that one sink in for a bit...that you are pushing - actually shoving - people further away from Jesus with this addiction for attention. But to some extent, we all long for attention. The problem is we look in the wrong places for the attention. Psalm 16:4 speaks to our misplaced scavenger hunt, "The sorrors of those will increase who run after other gods." The mental, emotional, and spiritual struggles you are having will only continue to increase as you run after other gods in the form of attention from these girls.
The only attention that will ever be enough is that from Jesus. I'm not sure what you are looking for in these girls, but according to Eph. 3:11, it is in Christ only that we find out who we are and what we are all about. You won't find your purpose, your hope, your meaning, your manhood, your confidence, or your esteem in these girls....or in the pursuit of these girls.
It sounds like your pursuit is part of your grand plan to find a girlfriend and eventual wife. Are those your plans or God's plans? God tells us to first commit our future to him and then our plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3 "Commit your ways to the Lord and your plans will succeed"). Are you commiting your future to God? I know we can all say "yea, sure, God's got my future" but do you really mean it? Because if you did, your behavior and decisions would reflect that. Your thrill would be in the chasing of God, not skirts. You would get way more jacked up when you hear from the Ruler and Creator of the Universe compared to when you hear from any of these girls. Your contentment would come from living a disciplined life in the Kingdom rather than the collection of more phone numbers on your cell.
If you are having trouble figuring out how to get the right perspective about this in your life, take a look at Jesus' life - there are many places of the gospels where women were around him and part of the group of people following him (e.g., the woman with the alabaster jar in Matthew 26; Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary, and Joanna among other women at the tomb in Mark 16, Luke 24; Mary and Martha in Luke 10; the Samaritan woman in John 4, the women travelling with Jesus in Luke 8)......and you have to figure that there were many others who were clamoring for his attention. Study his mission - his purpose - his compassion and his spiritual eyes. He knew that the man side of his God-man existence was not the answer for any woman. But the God side of his existence was all the answer they needed.
Part of your existence is still flesh, as indicated in Romans 2:29 (similar to how circumcision leaves a piece of skin, so too does circumcision of the heart leave a remnant of the flesh). But you are also defined by your spiritual existence in Christ. Let your spiritual existence be what you portray to women. When God wants to bring the right woman into your life, your heart for God will be what they will be most attracted to, I promise you. They will see a guy being defined and refined by Jesus in not only his words, but his actions, decisions, discipline, and how you honor women as opposed to 'playin' them.
This will take discipline...which at first may be quite difficult, but go after God hard on this one and ask him to give you that discipline and to start seeing women how he sees them....and he will do it. He did it with me and still does it with me, so I know he can do it with you and will.
Not to mention the truth of Matthew 6:21 (for where your treasure is there your heart will be also) that is on display here. Your treasure is supporting the pursuit and therefore your heart is locked up there as well. By re-focusing your attention, you will help re-store your treasure in order to re-align your heart.
Keep me informed about the renovation that goes on in your life with this issue.
sunday november 2, 2008
.people or projects?
I have this habit of coming across girls that are struggling someway in their life. And I want to fix it. I end up getting them to tell me their life stories and then I lead them to God's wonderful truths about salvation. The only problem I have is that after this I find it hard to let go. I almost become possessive to the point of wanting to know what they are doing all the time. I know this is wrong but I dont know how to stop it. I feel that if I tell the girl all this she will be crushed. Like at times I feel like I dont really care about them I just have to know what they are doing. I hate being this way and I think it stems from a heart issue I have about putting all my trust in Christ. I have accepted him as my savior a little over a year ago. But I still struggle with giving everything over to him. I grew up with the idea that I was never good enough and that no matter what I did it was wrong. I would put my trust in people only to have it crushed or be used just to get something. Now I have become a doubtful person. I really want to trust God in all areas but then I take that trust back. I also work in a very unchristian environment and there is lots of cheating and lying that goes on. I want so badly to change jobs but i have created a massive debt load and feel that if I quit I will be in massive trouble. I know I should trust the lord to provide but I can't. I'm really scared to take the step of faith and trust him. Thanks for listening
Thanks for the question, it is a good one. You actually nailed the issue yourself in your second sentence. Check out what you said..."I want to fix it." Guys are fixers. Fixing stuff is what we love to do. The problem becomes when fixing stuff spills over into our relationships. People don't need fixing, they need Jesus. I can't tell you how many times my wife has come to me an issue and I have proceeded to immediately try to fix "it". The problem is that she never wanted me to fix it - she wanted to me hear her process the issue and just be there for her (sad part is that this still happens....I am a slow learner). But part of our desire to want to fix stuff certainly has to do with our adventure-driven, pursuit-laden nature. However, we have to temper our desire to fix stuff with Christ's desire for us to be Kingdom Citizens with freedom to co-rule with Him. Jesus didn't come to make sick people well - He came to make dead people alive. So, in a macro-holistic-eternal way, Jesus does "fix" people. But this is a complete overhaul of the soul, spirit, and desires of a person. It is a continual renovation towards the likeness of Christ. I almost hesitate using the term "fix" for what Jesus does, because our use of the term is so limiting and preconceived. The supernatual spiritual fixing was never meant to be our responsibility. But we are called to participate in the process by helping people run into Jesus in any way we can.
Our home group is reading I Thessalonians this month, and I think Paul has some incredibly valuable things to say to us about our perspective on people. Let the weight and burden in Paul's heart for the people he is writing to sink in as you read this:
1 Thessalonians 3:7-12: "Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you."
Despite Paul's tough circumstances, he found joy in their faith. He didn't take his own situation and desires too seriously. He found true life in the relationship with his friends in Thessalonica and with God. He never once mentions fixing their problems. A very smart guy in my home group described it this way: do you view the people in your life as a project or as a person? If they are a project, then our focus will be on fixing them and making sure they stay fixed by focusing on the mechanics of diagnosing and solving the problem. If they are a person, then our focus will be on their hearts, rejoicing with them when they rejoice and weeping with them when they weep (Romans 12:15). We will become less concerned about fixing their issues, and more concerned about their hearts, their faith, and their relationship with Christ.
Paul's primary motivation is captured a little earlier in the same book in I Thessalonians 1:4 "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts." So you have to ask yourself, who do you really want to please? Others? Yourself? Or God?
If you want to please others, then you are telling God that his approval of you is not enough.
If you want to please yourself, then you are saying that you know better than God what you should have.
But if God is who we want to please, how do we do that? Hebrews 11:6 makes it clear, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Our faith in God's sovereignty the midst of our circumstances, and in the eternal and unstoppable momentum of God's Kingdom is how we can please God.
So, the advice I would have for you is to pray that God grows your faith (Romans 12:3). Get into the word of God to develop your faith, as instructed in Romans 10:17, "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Read, study, and meditate on 1 Thessalonians about Paul's heart for the people his life (note that this includes both guys and gals in his life).
Now let's move onto your the job issue part of your question. This is also a matter of faith...but let's first consider what may be typical guy-think type of advice to fix your job situation (read this with Napoleon Dynamite-like intonation as this will help the point):
"Dude, your situation stinks. You can either suck it up every day with the people around you, and dream of a better situation. Or dude, you can quit and hope that another job shows up. Or dude, check this out....you could perhaps look around for another job to escape to and hope that it is filled with lots of great Christians."
(now you can use your own intonation)
OR, maybe we can look at the situation from a more Kingdom-perspective. Have you considered that it could be the sovereignty of God and his choice to put you in this job to be a light to these people? Have you considered that you may be the only representation of Jesus in their life and that you may be God's plan A for their lives? Most importantly, you need to seek out God in his revealed word and let him talk to you about the fixing he wants to do. God may or may not fix your situation - regardless, he is much more interested in fixing you and your intimate understanding of His Kingdom in and around you.
Thank you for listening.
wednesday october 8, 2008
I have a situation I could use some wisdom and advice on. I respect your opinion and have found a lot of help from your Biblical references in responses to others’ questions on the blog. First, let me preface by saying I need to pray more about this. I've recently moved in three Christian guys from school. Over the past few weeks, I've been noticing my one friend who is in a relationship, has been falling asleep on the living room couch with his Christian girlfriend. His girlfriend lives about 15 minutes away with some other Christian girls on campus. This happens multiple times each week and often she gets up very early to leave before the rest of us get up for work. I have also “surprised” them on accident in the midst of something physical. I’ve not discussed this with my other two roommates.
My friend and his gf may have set their own boundaries and may not tempted where they are. But I feel their laying together on the couch at night watching TV and falling asleep together presents the wrong kind of image. The way she leaves seems secretive too. I wonder what her roommates think she does when she sleeps over. If they are totally okay with it, but my opinion is that they're on the edge of the cliff or too close to the boundary line to sin...should I bring it up with them? If I'm just critical, judgmental, or wrong, I'd rather not stir the pot. But if there is something my friends need to hear from God to prevent them from creating a bad image/falling into sin, should I be the one to speak to him as a brother in Christ, but not yet "best" friends with them? If so, where would I look to for words of grace and love that wouldn’t offend? Thanks for your insight/experience.
Ahhhh....good ole' roommate issues. Well, a typical answer that you may get from someone about this issue may go something like this:
The clear thing to do is to ignore the issue. Our lives are private and you should just mind your own business. Give your roommate the privacy that he and his girlfriend so clearly deserve. In fact, you may want to think about encouraging them to seek more privacy in his room and to get as horizontal as possible with each other.
The problem is that God did not call us to be typical. In Jesus’ prayer in John 17:14-17, he says, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Let that sink in a bit and realize how atypical we are called to be. So, with that backdrop, let’s dive in.
Privacy and 'horizontalness' are both not only dangerous, but are not part of Biblical instruction about our relationship....with women, and with our friends. It sounds like you have processed this issue and landed in a good spot. You have nailed some of the most dangerous issues about this scenario. I'll try to help with some further validation and strategies for talking to your roommate.
Scripture has a lot to say about privacy...while privacy with God is critical to develop our spiritual disciplines (e.g., dedicated time in the Word, meditation, scripture memorization, fasting), personal privacy – time where we do what only we want to do - is not critical to our development. Personal privacy is telling God that there are parts of your life that you don't want anyone else prying into, including God. If God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, how ridiculous is this way of thinking anyway?
So, while your roommate and his gf may be disciplined within their boundaries (which, by the way, I doubt their discipline will remain strong given the temptations they are exposing themselves too), there are a number of other issues at hand that you can address. Check out Ephesians 5:3 "Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." As you so accurately note, they are setting a dangerous example for others around them - you, your roommates, friends of yall's, the gf's roommates and their friends. There are all kinds of "hints" of immorality going on here. Being horizontal is hint enough. Add in some all night longevity, and some early morning escapes, and we have some full on hints, clues, and suggestions. Notice what Paul tags onto the end of his statement about sexual immorality and impurity - he says "or of greed". Uhhhh, hello? Where does immorality and impurity come from? How about greed? How about wanting something for ourselves that we think we deserve or want, or something that someone else has? Your roommate and his gf have probably rationalized that this is something that they deserve to do - they like doing it and besides, they are not having sex, right? Remember, sex is a process, just like having a baby is a process. Are they engaged in part of the sexual process? Absolutely. Can they disengage their lustful thoughts and resulting actions while in the throngs of this process? I would sincerely doubt it. I can bet their minds are racing with the thoughts of what comes next...and what comes next will come if they let their hearts go unguarded here. Bottom line, we don’t need to be getting horizontal with a girl – there is really nothing good that could ever come out of it. Your roommate needs to consider what Jesus says about the stumbling blocks that we create for our brothers in Luke 17:1-3.
If left un-checked, you and your roommates may look back on this one day and rationalize your own 'horizontal' privacy, thinking that "since he did it, it must be ok." Also, who knows what her roommates are thinking - for girls, this may be even more of a dangerous precedent, but I sure hope her roommates are praying about talking to her and searching for the wisdom and grace to do so.
Matthew 18:15 is super clear about what we need to do when we see another brother in habitual sin. It instructs us to go to our brother in private first (note that God will be there too). You need to approach him fully exposed, noting your imperfections and asking him to speak into your life if he ever sees habitual sin going on. Then you can talk to him about his relationship and decisions with his gf. If he does not listen to you, following Matthew 18:16, I would suggest you get your roommate involved and approach him as brothers in Christ, banded together to make the entire body of Christ stronger. Prov. 17:17 says that "A friend loves at all times, and brother is born for adversity." It does not say, "A friend loves only when it is easy, and if some adversity comes, a brother ignores it and hopes it just goes away." He may not recognize it right now, but this is adversity in his life. Satan is working hard on them, and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see the adversity. I have seen plenty of people in Vintage reject the encouragement and love from their brothers and sisters in Christ out of greed. They never saw the adversity that others did and the destruction simply grew and grew until it was unavoidable. A common regret is "I should have listened to my friends..." It is on your roommate whether his heart is ready to listen to you, but your responsibility to is to love him by sharing truth with him.
What you and/or your other roommates may want to think about doing is setting up some kind of house accountability that encourages you all to become the men of God that we are called to in 2 Timothy 1:7 “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” Paul is talking to his main man, his confidant, his brother in Christ, Timothy, making it clear what a man of God is called to. By talking to your roommate, you will be helping him truly love his gf with power and self control, in ways he is called to, by honoring and protecting her. In 1 Corinthians 16:13, we get another glimpse of what authentic manhood looks like, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” His “alert” monitors seem to have been disabled, so you need to stand firm in the faith so that he can act like a man and be strong. Here are some ideas that may help protect all of you all, while drawing you closer to Christ.
- Ask him what you and your other roommates can do to help the situation. He may know that he is living a dangerous and comprising life in this area, but may not know how to get out of it. Help from you guys may save his life.
- You and your roommates could start a Bible study or devotional on purity.
- Set up some "house rules" that you and your roommates agree to and hold each other accountable to. Here are some suggestions: No girls in the apartment after midnight. No co-horizontal action. Equal time with the remote. Equal time on the dishes. When 24 is on, no one says a word. OK, that last one is optional…but not in my house.
Also, don't get caught up in the 'best friend' issue. He doesn't have to be your best friend to have a conversation with him. If I saw any friend of mine walking slowly towards a cliff, but he was having a great time as he was walking - laughing, enjoying life, but not considering the consequences of his actions and what lies ahead of him, I would certainly be getting to him as quick as possible to let him know what he was about to step off into.
Lastly, as for where you will get the words of love, well that would be Jesus. Ask him for the words. In Luke 21:15, Jesus assures us that He will give us the wisdom and words we need – seek Him with all your heart and He will guide your path in this situation.
I will be praying for you and your roommate as well…and just did.
thursday july 3, 2008
.nice guys finish last?
Why is it that women seem to be so romantically attracted to jerks while totally shunning nice guys? Why is it that the selfish man who treats women like "sex objects" manages to get the girl while the nice guy who treats a woman like a princess and would go out of his way and even give his own life for the girl strikes out left and right and is left lonely and single in the dating world? What is it that jerks have to offer to women that nice guys don't have that wins the hearts of women? Why is it so difficult for nice guys to attract women when the jerks seem to be able to charm women with little or no effort? This is a common issue I have noticed among women today, and as a nice guy who would go out of his way to make the girl of his dreams the happiest girl alive and treat her like a princess, I find this to be rather frustrating. It almost makes me wanna be a jerk, just so that I can meet women (which I would NEVER do anyways because I am a......well.....a nice guy).
I will first share my perspective, and then will ask my wife Laura to chime in from a woman's perspective. Recognize that Genesis 1:27 says that both men and women were made in the image of God, so I hope by seeing both perspective's, collectively they also represent God's perspective on this issue.
First, you are responsible for your own decisions and actions and not those of any girl or other guys involved. Don't settle for anything less than what Christ expects from you...and for your mate. Be a man of God that other men can imitate. In Phil 3:17, Paul stresses to the church to continue to live to the high standards that they are being called to. There were (and still are) way too many people who claim Jesus with their lips, but deny Him with their actions. Jesus distinguished these people when he asked, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, but not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). Be a model man of God for others to imitate.
Second, it sounds like your desire for a mate may be clouding some of your emotions here. This is only my perception from the tone and implications of your email, but that is all I have to go on at this point. It sounds like your hunt for the right girl may be taking precedent over your hunt for God. When our hunt for other stuff in our lives pre-empts our focus on Christ, it can only result in some poor decisions and tough consequences. We really have only ONE model for our life - the God-man Jesus Christ, who is the beautiful, wise, strong, and powerful one. Lke Christ (John , our concern over the "bad boy" sagas that surround us should be about the souls, hearts, and lives at stake in the transactions.
Third, if there is a girl that you are interested in who keeps falling for the wrong guys, then she is probably not where she needs to be with Christ and therefore is not going to be good for you. You won't be the answer to her mis-aligned attractions. But Jesus will be. Check out what Paul said about the people he interacted with in Syria and Cilicia, "...and they were glorifying God because of me" (Galatians 1:24). Make sure this girl (or these girls) can glorify God because of what they see in you (your eternal goodness and integrity with which you treat people), what they hear from you (your honorable words of encouragement), what you think about them (your purirty of thought), and what they learn from watching you (your knowledge of right and wrong and the resulting blessings of your obedience to Jesus).
Fourth, realize that the girl is never the big prize. God, through Paul's letters, constantly calls us to aim for the big prize, not for little prizes on earth. While an amazing wife is desirable and certainly a gift from God, as I can daily attest to (Prov. 12:4, 18:22, 31:10), realize that our earthly marriages are only pictures of our ultimate and eternal marriage to Christ. Jesus is the big gift...the first prize. Don't get misled thinking that a wife, marriage, or girlfriend is the answer to your problems. She will never meet all your needs, and you will never meet all of hers. Don't let any woman take your focus off of Christ. Focus on running your race - Jesus has secured your finish, now you need to run it.
And lastly, to any "bad boy" reading this - the guys that claim Christ in your life, but treat women recklessly, with no respect, and as objects. Guys who talk about Jesus, sit in church, and run through the right "religious" banter, but then turn around and push impurity on women, encourage them to compromise for the sake of so-called "love", and ignore Biblical principles about purity like they are above God's influence. Guys who want to be men, but are too weak to act like real men. Guys that lack the self-control, discipline, and strength that are character traits of followers of Christ. Yea, yous guys. I'm calling you out - you know who you are. Get real about what a true man is and does and says and thinks. Define yourself in Christ, not in your weak-minded sexual adventures and conquests. Define yourself the same way Solomon did at the end of Ecclesiates (12:13) after he realized the emptiness of his "bad boy" pursuits, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." For I also had to come to grips with the fact that it is only by submission to Christ that we find out who we are and what our lives are all about (Eph. 1:11).
Here is Laura's valuable perspective:
I have to answer this question based on my own past attraction to the “Bad Boy” image. When I was lost, - living apart from Christ, - I lacked direction in every area of my life. When I realized who Jesus is as my Savior and Lord, His light went on in every dark corner of my heart and mind. The wild child boy was only attractive to me when I was not living in the awareness of my God and Savior. Once God opened my eyes to who He is, and how He loves me, - my heart, my life – my choices – were all His. I tell you this to get to the core issue of your question. A girl who pursues a guy who is not pursuing God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength – who projects that “Bad Boy” image- is not pursuing God, herself, – with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Ephesians is so crystal clear about this transition. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” 4:17-24
The bad boy image that a guy projects through his sexy attire and attitude is an invitation that says, “come sin with me”. That image screams without saying a word. Think about the advertising industry that uses sex to sell without spelling it out. We learn well from our culture how to sell the intentions of our heart, without saying a word. That dangerous image can even sit among us in the church sanctuary, pretending to be like us who love Christ, with us in worshipping Him - in living for Him - and without even making a sound, influence us away from Christ. And so that young woman, not yet surrendered to Christ – possibly wavering in her faith – or divided in it if she has found Christ at all, she is drawn to the allure of sin that she hopes will satisfy her ache for passion.
Don’t be influenced. Stand firm. You see how easy it happens, right? All you have to do is open your eyes, look around at who is getting the relationship that what you want and how they’re going about it, and you wonder: if this is the image that gets the girl, is that what I need to be like? Don’t be deceived. Keep your eyes on the image of Christ. That is truly the boldest, most attractive, bravest, most masculine image you could project. The image of Christ imbedded on your heart and mind is the one that is required to go the distance in a marriage. It’s a sacrifice, isn’t it? To surrender what you see, what you want, to what you believe through faith? You’re becoming like Christ, my friend. “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
When I met my husband, we were both on a new journey in Christ. Kemper was a nice guy. I was totally drawn to him, and he did not fit the former description of my past “bad boy” boyfriends. However, as a nice guy, he had an edge about him that drew me. He was confident, never arrogant. He was secure in his faith, and he actively lived it out in front of me. He fought for purity in our relationship, even if the cost included me. He held on to his separate interests and did not allow himself to get swept up in me. He had a hunger for adventure, and one that didn’t have to include my participation every moment, but sometimes would be shared with me as he told me stories about where he had been and what he had done. God was teaching Kemper how to discipline his mind and body, and he would not forsake those lessons for time with me. He did not let me become an idol. God was first in Kemper’s life, and he invited me to share in that journey with him, as long as I, too, let God lead. That’s hot! God knew it would be. Part of the curse in the garden of Eden was that a woman would desire her husband – she would want to dominate him - but he would rule over her. With that curse from our loving, intentional, brilliant God, He also provided a cure, one that would draw us to Himself. Submission. Check it out:
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to you own husbands you do to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, as also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
God’s instruction is consistent. “…sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7b. Can you get the visual on that? Powerful. Dangerous. The most attractive strength you can project is your ability to master what desires to control you. Do not let your desires control you, and that, young sir, includes woman. She is not sin, but she desires to master you. What she needs in her walk with Christ, is to be able to respect you. Your strength to focus on Christ is everything. Check out Romans 6:12-14.
Focus on Him, His image – no other - for yourself, and for the woman who will one day be blessed by your understanding of his strength, sacrifice and love.
wednesday june 18, 2008
As a newer Christian, I am so fired up for the Lord and I just feel like I need to tell everyone! But some people where I work always try to put me down, and it gets so frustrating. I just don't know how to respond to them without getting upset. I am into the Word everyday because as it says "study to show yourself approved" and I want to be the best witness possible so I can truly tell these people what the Lord has done for me, and what he can do for them also. I'm not trying to change them or anything like that, I just like to let them know that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and that I am very proud of that. I need some help so I won't get upset when these people try and put me down, or tell me how what I believe is not true. I just don't know what to say, and I kind of just blank out and end up walking away frustrated and questioning my own faith. If you have any insight, it would be greatly appreciated!
The title of this post and the question may seem disconnected - what does getting put down at work have to do with relationships? There are some key issues in leadership development that are surfacing here. Recognize that by expressing your faith in meaningful ways that display the Kingdom of God in your life is the development of leadership in your life. When you get married, you are expected to be the spiritual leader - the temperature setter of the home. You will have to stand up for your household, as Joshua did in Joshua 24:15 when he said, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." You will beed to stand up for your faith, for your family, for your kids, for what is right, for principle over popularity, for character over compromise, for self-control over self-indulgence. So, the stand you are taking and the example you are living is laying the foundation for your future relationships. So, how do you navigate this apparent landmine of opinions, ridicule, and frustration?
First, have confidence in yourself, because Jesus in Luke 12:11-12 says, "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."
This doesn't mean you have to be standing before rulers....it implies that when you are hanging out with people who think they know more than you and they have convincing sounding arguments, don't worry b/c the wisdom that comes from God is no match for any man-made argument. God will give you the right words to say to your co-workers at the right time.
Second, recognize that you are doing the right thing by speaking up. Look at what Jesus told Peter he was going to do - Jesus told Peter that he would be silent when the people around him talked about Jesus. And Peter was silent - he denied knowing anything about Jesus and who He really is. Also, in Matthew 10:33, Jesus says that whoever denies Jesus before men, that Jesus will deny him before the Father in Heaven. I think this is making it clear that true believers will not be able to deny who Christ is in their lives. Knowing Christ as your Savior and Leader is just part of who you are and you are letting demonstrating that. Don't be the guy who judges and proclaims hell for everyone around him. Be the person we are called to be in 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Be merciful and full of grace, b/c that is how Jesus is with you. Be real, be honest about your mess-ups and what God has done for you and with you....and that He can rescue anyone from our messed up lives.
Third, there may someone at your work who is struggling with their faith and needs to see someone else stand up for Christ. You may never know that...or they may seek you out and thank you for doing that. There may be someone who goes through some rough times soon and now they know that you are a Christ-follower....and they may seek you out for counsel at some point. It is for God's glory that you spoke out - let Him now use it in people's lives, including yours. You can't beat yourself up about what you said or didn't say. Learn from it and get ready for the next opportunity. 1 Peter 3:15 is the verse that talks about having a defense ready to talk about the hope in you with gentleness and respect. You don't want to be forceful or disrespectful - be gracious, respect what people think (realize that they may not know any better and may be just verbalizing what they have been taught since they were a child), and be a source of wise truth for them - authentic in your words, compassionate for people, loving them with word and deed.
Keep growing through this - God is stretching you and it is very cool that you are growing through the stretching. Keep learning about God in His Word – learn about His character, His grace, His passion for people, His compassion for the lost. Then through this learning, He will give you the knowledge to share about Himself. Typically when people are living apart from God, it is because they either have a wrong understanding of God (e.g., that he is a policeman ready to beat them down, or a big Santa Claus who is a overweight jolly gift-giver, etc.), or they have a wrong perception of themselves (they think they are good enough on their own, or don’t see inherent worth in their life). Try to show them the proper perspective on both of these issues through your words, your actions, and your decisions. Show them the love of God and make sure they know that they matter to God. They will see that something is different about you in how you handle yourself, the decisions you make, and how you treat people. That difference will reflect the Kingdom of God to them and that is the best thing you can ever do for them. It is not your job to save them, but to reveal the Kingdom of God in their lives.
Regarding how they are making you feel….consider David’s words in Psalm 56:4, 56:11, and 118:6 and the writer of Hebrews words in Hebrews 13:6, when they say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Sick your teeth into that for a little while. David was going through some tough times with people giving him a really hard time….they wanted to kill him for what he stood for – rough situation to say the least. But even if they killed him, he knew that the next moment, he would be with the Lord…..not too bad upon reconsideration. So, consider what the worst thing is someone could do to you at work and then ask the same question David asked….what can they really do to me? Hopefully, your answer is “nuthin’”. Your confidence, security and identity is in Christ and Him alone – rest in that and let your heart bring a big fat grin to your face no matter what.
thursday june 12, 2008
.can't get over her
I am struggling with the girl I like. I've been trying to love the Lord with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul, and all my strength. I've tried to do this by reading my bible and praying regularly ever since and I've learned a lot and do my best to follow what God says, but I still have these horrible feelings for this girl. It's gotten to the point where I told her she isn't my friend anymore and I can't talk to her. Basically I have to avoid my friends all the time at school cause they're friends with her so I end up leaving any situation when shes around because they'll be with her and it just hurts to see her. I've tried to be her friend multiple times but I just get angry and I can't get mad at her anymore. She is a Christian and helped me early on by showing me things, but basically its gotten to the point where I don't want to talk to her anymore, yet I will still see her so I don't know how I'll ever get over her. It's just annoying because shes never had a boyfriend before and won't even date anyone and I feel like I'd marry the girl. I've never felt that strongly towards someone before and thats why it's so hard to lose those feelings. I pray so much that if it's God's will for us to not be together that he would make these feelings for her go away, but they don't. I get depressed about it all the time because I can't get her off my mind and she lives close to me next semester. Another huge reason I want her off my mind is because I lust for her really bad sometimes and I ask for forgiveness after, but it ends up happening again. I don't want these feelings or attractions for her anymore because they've caused me to do wrong and I just want to please God without feeling like I'm blowing it every time I lust for her and give in. I just don't understand what I'm supposed to do if I pray for these terrible feelings of hurt and sin to go away. Sometimes I wonder if He's ever going to help because why would this still be going on if its causing hurt and sin. My life has just come to be boring and lonely. I wish I could just meet someone that I could love forever and not have to go through this ever again.
I'm going to try to bring some new perspectives to the battle here. Hopefully some of them will land with some impact.
- You mentioned that you wish that you could just meet someone that you could love forever. If you are a follower of Christ - if you have made him not just your functional savior (you know Him as the guy that died so you could go to Heaven), but if you have made him your leader, your life architect, your source of wisdom, your daily guide, and an ever-presence in your life....then you already have met someone that you can love forever. I think you are living where the church at Ephesus was living when Jesus called them out in Revelation 2:2-5:
"I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."
They, like you, were doing cool things for Jesus. They were doing nice things for people, they were working hard at their jobs, they got upset when they saw evil and injustice, they knew how to discern truth, and they had battled through some tough personal times. But, they had forgotten that they were in love with Jesus. They had started doing life with their affections placed in other places - they may have just fallen in love with doing good, or knowing truth, or the attention that may have come from their public persecution. While these things are part of our lives as Christ followers, they should not replace our affection and connection with Jesus. And look at what Jesus says lies ahead of them if they don't re-align their affection...Jesus says that their effectiveness in their life ministries (at their jobs, with their families & friends) is about to be minimized - their lampstands are going to be removed. They are not representing the essence of the Kingdom of God with their "good deeds" - God wants our heart, and right now it sounds like your heart is turned somewhere else.
- You are frustrated because God has not released you from these feelings toward her. What makes you think that God should do that? Did God turn off the feeling that Adam and Eve were having when they wanted to eat from the wrong tree? Did God grant Jesus' request for this cup to be passed from Him in the garden before his crucifixion? I only shudder at the thought of what may have become of me, of you, of humanity, if God had released Jesus from His mission just because His humanness was having some difficulty grasping what was coming. God wants us to embrace the power He has given us to overcome our temptations and wordly drives. Paul compares salvation to a circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29 and Phil 3:3) - our core desire to sin has been cut away, but as you guys know with circumcisions, there is always a piece of skin left. So, we have a piece of our fleshly heart still in us that we have to learn to overcome through self-control and discipline that comes from hanging out with Jesus and making His Kingdom a reality in our lives.
- You will need to get a God-perspective on this girl. If God has not opened the opportunity to court her, then you have to decide who you trust: your desires and what you think you want for your life.....or God. Psalm 37:4 tells us to "delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I perhaps can hear you saying right now, "and I desire her....so it must be from the Lord." But don't skip the "delight in the Lord" part - it is critical....in fact, it is more than critical, it is essential. "Delighting in the Lord", if I could put it another way is "falling in love with Christ" (see Rev. 2:2-5 above), which is the consistent message of Jesus all the way from Psalms to Revelation - He wants our delight, our affection and our attention. Once you focus your delight on Christ, then, and only then, will the desires of your heart come from God.
As you have felt yourself, your desire for her is bringing you to a place of unproductive anger, crippling lust, suffocating depression, and will eventually lead to vicious contempt....for her, for her friends, and perhaps for yourself. Do these qualities sound like those of a citizen of the Kingdom of God?
Focus on representing Jesus to her, protecting her purity (and her friends'), praying for her (by the way, that prayer needs to focus more on her growth closer to Jesus....not closer to you....let God do the connecting in your life). Remember, that your influence for the Kingdom hangs in the balance here, as the influence of the church at Ephesus also hung in the eternal balance. Don't let some earthly desires and plans get in the way of the magnificent eternal.
- We are called to freedom. Having to worry about not hanging out with some friends if she is around, adjusting your schedule and routes depending upon where she is, always feeling an urge to check where she is or who she is with - that is bondage man.....and a rough one at that. I have lived it and it was not fun in any way. I thank Jesus for freeing me from it....and He can free you as well.
Let me end with an illustration adapted from Dallas Willard. Let's say you wanted to go to Moe's to eat because that is what you really want. When you walk into Moe's it is affirmed that you are at Moe's with a hearty "Welcome to Moe's!" from the burrito crew (if you have not been there, you have to try it...at least walk in the door to get the welcome and then decide whether you want to stay). They don't say "Welcome to not Taco Bell!" They don't congratulate you on not going somewhere else. If you are at Moe's, by definition you are not at hundred's of other places you could be eating. The fact that you are not at these others places is thrown in for free since you at Moe's. But if your sole goal when you ventured out for some grub was to not be at Taco Bell, it is not really an effective way to get to Moe's. You could avoid Taco Bell by being at any number of locations which are not Moe's.
So, what do burritos and geography have to do with your situation?
Well you don't want to feel this desire for her anymore, right (the "not Taco Bell goal")? But, focusing on this goal is only going to make you think about her more and will bring loads of frustration...and really won't get you to your real goal of desiring God and His will (the "be at Moe's goal")? So, you need to focus on replacing your "not desire her" goal with a "desire God" goal. Then, you will get the "not desire her goal" thrown in as part of the deal - let God transform you and reshape the desires of your heart. Just like when you focus on showing up at Moe's, it is pretty difficult to be at Taco Bell at the same time. When you focus on Jesus, it is going pretty difficult to be in a place of crippling, sinful desire at the same time.
There is no boredom or loneliness in God's Kingdom. So head to His Kingdom - Jesus is waiting to show you things beyond what you can even think of or ask through His power that resides in you (Eph. 3:20). If this girl is not part of God's plan for you, then rest assured that He will have someone even better....way better...beyond what you can even think or ask for (once again, Eph 3:20). I thought my girlfriend in college was the end all for me. How limited my perspective was....and how incredibly grateful I am that God gave me my wife - she is beyond what I could even ask for or imagine. Trust God. Trust His Word. Trust Jesus with everything you have and are going through.
posted by kemper lewis
wednesday may 28, 2008
I have spoken to my girlfriend about this matter and we came to a decision that we need some guidance. We have been dating for almost a year now and before we came to Christ we were having struggles with sex. Until we really got into the word of God and gave our lives to him (we gave our lives to Jesus a month after we started dating) we were still in this sin. Our entire relationship has been a huge struggle for me in terms of lust. I know what it is like to have sex with her because we had dated years ago also. As soon as we gave ourselves to Christ the thought of giving in to our temptations was out of the question for both of us. We gave up everything, even kissing after we were saved. However I still struggle with lust. Most recently I have been lusting over her like crazy. Just the other day is when the temptation got really intense and we both gave in earlier today. I want to keep myself and her both pure and I donʼt want to cause her to sin and I know she feels the same way. We were doing so good. We both feel disgusted and hurt about our actions. We have known each other for a long time and have talked about limiting our relationship to only in public places and in groups. We both want to do what God would want us to do and were just hurt and mad at ourselves that this could happen. Can you please help us out.
You are in the middle of what I think is the toughest battle for men and I am stoked that you are fighting. Too many men who claim to know Christ do not fight the fight we are called to fight. They think that saying a prayer at some point, or being involved in some ritualistic behavior (going to church, giving tithes, taking communion, getting baptized, having a Bible in their apartment) is all that Jesus could ever require of us. If that is so, then why does He talk about life transformation so much? Why does Paul talk extensively about fighting the fight laid out before us? It is because truly following Christ is about making Him our friend, leader, teacher, confidant, resource, advisor, and daily savior.
It is too easy to rationalize sin (I know first hand) thinking that Jesus could not be possibly asking me to withstand the temptation in front of me. We think there is no way that He could have ever imagined or experienced what we are experiencing right now. Au Contraire Mon Frere....check out Hebrews 4:15 where is says that Jesus was tempted in EVERY way we have been tempted (and then some).
In Luke 4 Jesus was tempted by Satan himself to turn a stone into bread to feed himself - He was tempted to find satisfaction through His performance and abilities....sound familiar in how we try to out-perform the next guy?
Then Satan offered Jesus control over vast cities and earthly kingdoms - He was tempted to find satisfaction in possessions and conquests....sound familiar in how we try to have the latest and greatest materially and sexually?
Then Satan tried to convince Jesus to throw Himself off the top of the temple in Jerusalem so that the angels could come save Him and so that everyone could be amazed - He was tempted to find satisfaction in what others thought about Him....sound familiar in how we try to impress and live according to what others think of us?
Bottom line - Jesus is not some far-off religious figure who had some interesting things to say when He was on Earth. He is desperate to be part of our lives in the here and now. When He prayed to His Father, "Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven" does it sound like He was praying to a God who was to remain distant? He was asking for God's kingdom to become a reality in the lives of His followers NOW...not just after they die. He wanted to reveal that God's Kingdom was all around us. He wanted them to experience real and true life in Christ now - He wanted them to sense a part of Heaven now....and the same goes for us. God's Kingdom can be a reality now if we understand what the Kingdom is and looks like.
So, what could it look like since I John 5:19 says that "the whole world is under the control of the evil one"? OK, so how can God's Kingdom be under the control of the evil one? The verse is speaking about the Earthly system and how Satan influences many of the activities on Earth (starting with the choice in the Garden). So, there are parts of the world around us that are not characteristic of God's Kingdom, but then many parts that are.
Consider these examples.....
Humility is part of God's Kingdom on Earth (James 4:6), but false humility for the sake of attention is not. Compassion is part of God's Kingdom on Earth (Matthew 5:7), but compassion with a hidden personal agenda is not. Selflessness is part of God's Kingdom on Earth (I Timothy 6:18), but emptying oneself for the sake of praise and adoration is not. Prayer is part of God's Kingdom on Earth (I Thess. 5:17), but praying so that others can see our "spirituality" is not. There are a number of characteristics of God's Kingdom that can easily get all messed up when our own agendas or pride gets in the way. The same goes for sex. Sex is part of God's Kingdom (Genesis 9, Song of Songs), but sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is not.
I am wrecked for you and your girlfriend (and so many others like you who may be reading this), that you recognize and pursue the things of the here and now Kingdom, especially in the area of purity.....and it sounds like you are doing just this. We will have stumbles along the way. But the key issue is how we get up and make sure that we don't trip over the same stinkin' fold in the carpet again. Smooth it out and be done with it - other folds in the carpet will pop up, but make sure this one doesn't.
Also, recognize that at this moment, Jesus wants you to run to Him and Him only. When my kids disobey me, I don't banish them to the basement - I want them right next to me so that they can hear my love for them and that I am desperately trying to protect them. Are there consequences for their disobedience? Sure, but first and foremost, I want them to understand my love for them. So, let Jesus overwhelm you with acceptance and restoration. He wants you closer to Him now more than ever.
We also have a tendency to dwell on our past mistakes and live in them to the point where we lose our effectiveness for future battles. If anyone had reason to dwell in past mistakes, it was Paul. But check out what he writes in Galatians 13:14 "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." OK, so when Paul says that there is ONE thing that he disciplines himself to do, I am listening. This one thing that he remembers to do is not to live in the past - he does not dwell on past battles......OR victories. That is not what the Kingdom of God is all about. Yes, we should remember how God was worked in us in the past, but we should not positioned there. Face forward and be ready for the next battle...the next opportunity to worship Jesus....the next opportunity to show love to a stranger....the next opportunity to protect your purity....the next opportunity to take a stand in private that only you and God know about....the next opportunity to tell Jesus that you love Him through your choices.
I encourage you with everything I have to be the protector of purity that we as men of God are called to be. It is so critical and so much hangs in the balance on this issue. I Corinthians 9:27 talks about the discipline we need to live with, I Corinthians 16:13 talks about the man-strength we need to fight with, and Ephesians 5:3 talks about the commitment to purity we must embrace - make your life one of a disciplined fight for purity....and then you will experience Heaven on Earth - you will get to see the Kingdom of God come in and through you. Feel the weight of Jesus' prayer to His Father personally...because it was meant for you.
wednesday may 7, 2008
.worth the fight?
I have been dating my girlfriend since January. She is on fire for the Lord, we get along great and we have so much fun together. As a couple we have tried to make our purity a prioirty by not kissing each other or putting ourselves in blatant situations where we know we will be tempted. We are both very passionate people, which is how God created us. We have so much love for one another and I am so thankful God has blessed me with such an amazing girlfriend and woman.
Every day for me is a struggle. I have victory in Jesus, but Satan still tempts me. Satan tempts my girlfriend as well, both of us through thoughts and ideas. I have overcome pornography and physical gratification and my heart's desire is to be pure, but my flesh still wants what it wants. He who is in me is greater than he who is in this world and I know I can conquer whatever Satan throws my way and I have. Sometimes it is such a battle for both of us to not kiss each other. It has not been easy, but it has brought us so much joy in knowing that it honors God and I know God will help us stay pure. But if we are committed to being pure, why am I, and why is my girlfriend tempted to give into sin. We don't want it, I don't want it. The other day, she said that she doesn't know if she feels like she should be dating anyone right now, being tempted to sin and I don't know what to do or say in response. If we can't control ourselves now, who is to say we can control ourselves in future, whther together or in different relationships?
Dating is hard, it really is. It is tough to love someone and want to express that love physically, but God has designed it otherwise, with our best interests in mind. I still struggle with temptation to think things. Is purity the absence of temptation or sinful thoughts and desires? Or, is purity the presence of those thoughts and temptations while rejecting to believe them or give in. I am not saying I embrace temptation; I hate it with a passion and I wish it were gone. But Satan is really manipulating the passion and love we have for each other.
Should we take a break and try and get things worked out before we try dating again? She is my best friend and I do not want ot lose her. She has helped me embrace who I am, who God has made me to be and is such a joy and encouragement to me and my family. I am trying, so hard, to trust God to do his will. I have surrendered this relationship to Him, but why does this potential thought of not being with her cause my heart to break? I really feel like she and I have a great relationship because it is centered around Christ. So why is temptation coming so hard at us and how can we avoid it? We honor God in what we say and do, yet deep down Satan is pinching nerves and trying to attack us. Should I let her go and do her own thing for awhile. Should I let myself go and do my own thing for some time?
I want to do what's right and I don't want to live in sin. My heart wants to fight for her, I don't want to give up on this relationship.
Heavy stuff my friend - I hear your heart and I hope you hear mine.....but more important than that, I hope you hear Jesus'.
Your struggle is one that we, as followers of Christ, have all faced. We face temptation, we wrestle with it, we try to rationalize our way into sin, we think twice and refuse to give in, we re-rationalize, and hopefully conquer the temptation and move on....but then wonder what will happen next time it comes around.....how can I keep this up for days, weeks, months, years? Is this what Jesus meant when He said "let Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven"? Surely, this can't be a touch of Heaven! This is where the rub occurs.....perhaps we aren't really getting what it means to experience a piece of Heaven here on earth, to breathe Holy Oxygen, to sense the presence of the Creator.
Check out these verses.
Matthew 11:30 (Jesus speaking) "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I John 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
I don't know about you, but I have read these verses for years and am typically asking for a lil' help from God. How can following Christ be the narrow road and harder than fitting a camel through a needle, yet also be "easy", "light" and "not burdensome"? Seems counter-intuitive, illogical....does not compute, right? Understanding how these things are actually aligned and synonymous is one of the single most valuable things I think we, as followers of Jesus, can work towards grasping.
Right now, you may be saying, "but dude, when my girlfriend and I are sitting next to each other, you don't understanding how stinkin' hard it is to not kiss her, to not have thoughts beyond kissing her, to keep my hands, head, and heart in check. It is as far from 'not burdensome' as I can get." So, how can Jesus claim that at that moment in your life obeying Him by choosing purity is easy? Here it is: When you love Jesus with your heart, soul, mind, and strength, it becomes very hard NOT to obey Jesus. Too many people who claim to follow Christ settle for a life of trying to manage their sin while just holding on long enough to get to Heaven. To some extent, they are missing the entire deal. Sin management is hard and will tear at a true follower of Christ. They will be torn at the core of who they are - you can not serve two masters.....sometimes Jesus and sometimes your pride. At some point one has to take over and play the lead role.
When you get what it is to love with heart, soul, mind, and strength, you start to see the world differently - you start to understand the 'life of love' that we are called to (see 1 John for an incredible development of this life of love). Because if you really love Jesus with everything you are, then you would love that girl sitting next to you with the Love of Christ and would do anything you could to be Jesus to her...and for her. You would make it your mission to protect her purity, understanding that Jesus has given you the ability to do such a thing. Anything less would be hard.
And you know what? This process - living a life of love - is what I think Jesus is calling us to live. And it is that life that is easy, light, not burdensome, and a big NYC style pizza slice of Heaven on Earth.
For the past few months, I have personally been trying to really understand what living a 'life of love' looks like....what it looks like in my marriage, in my parenting, in my work, in my walking through the hallways at UB, in the times when I am by myself, when I am responding to emails, when I am in a restaurant......wherever, whenever. It is a difficult concept to try to grasp and implement....but I think when we do, we will truly recognize the easy yoke we are to wear.A critical cog in our understanding is recognizing who Jesus really was and is as the God-man. Jesus wasn't just this Superman who was pretending to be Clark Kent, acting like He could be tempted and pretending to be all human and stuff. He fully embraced his humanness and suffered in major ways. He was tempted in every way we are (Aside: I can hear some of you saying, "but the internet was not even around, much less the TV, movies, and magazines." He was a young man who lived in a place where there were young women....enough said).
So, He can sympathize with us - he suffered and was tempted in major ways. When we are weak, we need to run to Jesus, not from Him in shame. When we are tempted, He is not disappointed. Rather, He sympathizes with you. He wants to embrace you as a father, friend, and brother. The writer of Hebrews captures this:
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.
Temptation will continue - resist it and say yes to God....because saying yes to temptation is saying no to God. When you live a life of love, saying yes to God becomes just part of who you are. When we run to Jesus, here is what we are guaranteed to receive:
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
So, recognize that your temptation is NOT the sin. Scripture makes that clear when it says that Jesus was tempted, but was still without sin. It is your response to temptation that you are wrestling with. Fight for your relationship with your girlfriend. It sounds like both of you are committed to Christ first and foremost which is the key. Keep focused in Him and embrace, practice, and engage in a life of love.
There are certainly things you can do to minimize the opportunities for temptation. But trying to eliminate temptation completely is not something that you should be focusing all your energy on. How to respond to it when it comes....now that is where you should focus most of your energy. And when this response becomes 'easy' then you will have more energy to worship Jesus with all you do each day. Satan will try to convince you that giving into the temptation will be worth it and will be much more fulfilling that obeying God....it just ain't. Remind Satan that he is nothing but a sorry liar.....and then give him some truth from God's Word to chew on for breakfast....and then thank God for being who He is.
I pray we all recognize how following Christ can be simply who we are....what we are all about.....second nature to us....something that is...easy.
saturday april 26, 2008
There is a girl interested in me, who recently became born-again, and I am not into her in that way. How are some ways I can tell her that it ain't gonna happen?
I am assuming that since you brought up the fact that she is now a follower of Jesus, that you can't use her not being a Christian as a reason to not date her. So, what you may want to say to her is that you are flattered that she is interested in you, but the connection that is necessary to move into a dating relationship is just not there. It would not be fair to her to pursue this relationship simply because she is interested in you. You both would be selling out and compromising what God has for you. She deserves someone who is all about her....and you deserve someone who you are all about.
Of course, if this doesn't work, then you can always come with the "I look at you like my sister" line.....that should take care of things quickly.
tuesday april 22, 2008
Lately I've been struggling with personal temptation. I've overcome the porn issue about a year ago by God's grace. He has eliminated all those images from my head and everything. It's amazing. Lately though I've been struggling with the thoughts of personal gratification. I'm so sick of dealing with it! I've not given in, but I know what it physically feels like because of my past sin. Sometimes I have an extremely hard time saying no. I need practical ways of making this temptation much weaker or go away all together.
You are recognizing the seriousness of sexual sin - it carries with it a powerful and lasting residual effect in our life. I praise God for giving you the power to conquer pornography and pray for anyone else reading this who is in a place of dangerous addiction with the stuff. I've been there and through God's grace only clawed my way out with His help. There is freedom in the conquering....but the effects of sexual sin can stick around in our life. So, we continually have to make sure we are keeping our house clean.
You are not alone with having a hard time saying no. Eve had a hard time saying no to Satan, Adam had a hard time saying no to Eve, Paul had a hard time saying no to the things he knew were right (Romans 7). If this battle was easy, we could handle it ourselves. But we can't. That is why God gives us the tools necessary to fight. It is the hard battles that require offensive and defensive weapons..Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us great insight into our weapons of war....and note the primary offensive weapon that has the power to kill: the sword of the Word. It is the Word of God that gives us power to destroy sin, withstand temptation, and cut to the heart of the issue. That is why it is critical to have the Word at your fingertips at all times. I recognize that you can't always be carrying a Bible with you at all times.....or can you? You can carry big chunks of it in your mind at all times and that is how you can attack these temptations you are facing. I love 1 Conrinthians 16:13 which says (with my commentary in parantheses), "Be on the alert (temptation is always lurking and we need to be ready for it), stand firm in the faith (get grounded in Jesus), act like men (act like men), be strong (use the man-strength God has already given you)". I am teaching this verse to my 4 year old son, Kaden, because I think it is such a powerful verse for who we are as men and who we are called to be.
So, let's bottom line this with some practical ways:
- Get His Word in your head. In addition to the verses above, I Corinthains 10:13, Jonah 2:8-9, and 1 John 4:4 (among many others) are great ones to have handy in that mind of ours.
- Avoid your temptation triggers: the places, times of the day, websites, and habits that all elicit temptation for us should not be part of our daily routines.
- Rejoice in your making: God didn't mess up with you. I have similar wiring with similar struggles. I praise God's design and recognize that He is glorified most in our self-control and obedience.
- Keep your eye on the prize: Do you think Eli Manning was thinking about anything other than winning the Super Bowl as the Patriot defense surrounded him and seemingly had him down and the Giants defeated? Nope. He still, in the midst of incredible adversity, was thinking about how he could win the prize. Keep your eye on God's promise for purity in your life. I guarantee the truth of Proverbs 13:19 which says that "the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul" will never taste so good in your life if you stay focused.
- Get a brother you can trust: Find someone who you can talk to, who can ask you the hard questions, who can give you Godly answers, and who can be the brother in Christ we all need. Proverbs says 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity." War and pain seem to be bonding agents for men. Find a brother to fight this war with you - that is why we are here.
Hope this helps.
monday april 14, 2008
.focus of our affection
What could you say to encourage myself & those who have lost a desire for God but still know deep down they truly do want a passionate relationship with him?
I would guess that this issue has surfaced for just about every follower of Christ at some point in their relationship with Him. For many, the loss of desire for God starts small. We are enticed by small things that we think won't really damage us. These small enticements then slowly (or rapidly for some) grow to the point where we have lost sight of God - where we have lost our passion for Him - where we are somewhere we do not want to be and can't really even figure out how we got there. You are making choices that you know are not consistent with what God wants for you. You are making compromises in critical parts of your life (purity, relationships, discipline). You are being enticed by the lies of the evil one.
Peter talks about this "enticement" in 2 Peter 2:18 (and it shows up in James 1:14) and the connotation of "enticement" in the original text is one of enticing fish with some bait so that they can be snared with a sharp hook. It is the apparent promise of satisfaction, gratification, freedom that only leads to our capture, pain, and destruction. For men, this enticement usually comes in the form of lust, fornication, adultery, materialism, addiction, pride, and/or anger. Then when the temptation to give into these sins hits us.....and it will.....we tend to think that forsaking obedience to God on any of these items will be worth it. But no one in the history of mankind has made this exchange and been thankful for it. And don't think you are going to be the first. Yea, short term, it may feel rewarding...but feelings are fleeting and the consequences will soon greatly outweigh any perceived "reward". And actually "greatly outweigh" is a understatement. It is more like "infinitely outweigh".
In Jeremiah 2:1-3, the Lord is speaking and is talking to His people (the nation of Israel at the time, but the principles apply to His church today). He is recalling a time when they were fired up and passionate for Him. The Lord blessed them and protected them from their enemies. But, as noted in verse 11, they started being enticed by worthless idols. They started viewing their sin as more attractive than God. Note the significance of verse 12....the angels in heaven are appalled at this behavior from God's people. Why are they so appalled?? Because they KNOW the awesomeness of God - they know how flippin' amazing it is to worship God and they are freakin' out because His people are acting like their obedience to God is priority #5....or #10.....or #1,638....or ANYTHING but #1 in their lives.
Same goes for us today - if we truly understood the grace and love we have been shown as adopted kids in God's Kingdom, any temporary rewards from our sin choices would just not be worth it.....period. Whatever is enticing you today, tomorrow, next week, right now....God is better.
So, what do you or I do in this situation? First, realize that there is no recipe to loving God. There are no 12-step recovery programs. We live in a microwave generation - we want results fast, easy, and procedurally (insert the Brian Regan clip on microwaved pop-tarts here...). As Christians, we have to unlock our hearts and let our new nature in Christ out. If you are truly a follower of Christ, then your deepest desire will be to follow Him and to obey Him. You have to let this deepest desire rule your life and be your sole focus. You have to focus on renewing your passion for God through heart, head, soul, and strength. Recognize the presence of Christ every moment of every day of your life and then live life with Him.....really live life with Him and for Him.
The theme verse for Vintage is 1 Thessalonians 1:9 "for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God."
Turn, serve, and embrace - that is about as close to a recipe as you are going to find. But make it personal....because God is personal. I pray you are never the same again as you encounter the true God in ways you never imagined. He will provide all the enticement you will ever need.
posted by kemper lewis
friday april 11, 2008
I feel, and have felt for some time that I want to wait until marriage for my first kiss. Even before I was a Christian I wasn't sure and of course not convicted, but now as a Christian it seems that I'm being more and more convicted. But to the world a kiss is something that people just do for fun. I never thought that this should be a flat-line rule for all Christians, just in my case. But lately I have heard many people talking and I was wondering if this is too strict of a conviction or if this is an OK boundary for me to have.
First, this is a perfectly OK boundary to have and one I would highly recommend. I love the testimony of Curtis Brown (of the San Jose Sharks and formerly of the Buffalo Sabres) and his wife Amy whose first kiss was at their wedding after the pastor pronounced them husband and wife. They both knew that even if they kissed while dating, it was going to evoke impure thoughts and put them in difficult and tempting situations. In my book, Curtis is a real man because he exercised his self-control and allowed his relationship with Amy to grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in Christ. Of course he was attracted to Amy - that chemistry is very important (listen to the chemistry between Solomon and his bride in Song of Songs). However, in Christ, he had the power to claim God's marriage gift and understood what boundaries it took for he and Amy to protect that gift.
Second, the world has a way of trying to remind us that what we stand for in Christ, is weird, restricting, or just plain not right. The world had similar messages in the times of Jesus too. I think this is why Peter, in a number of places in II Peter (see II Peter 1:12, 13, 3:1) notes that he is "reminding" the followers of Christ what their life callings are all about. The world will never stop trying to remind us that we should just give into temptation and that sex before marriage is normal. What we need to do in response is to remind ourselves, by being in the Word of God, of what it means to be a follower of Christ. There is a reason why the Bible calls the true Christian life a "narrow road" - more people will listen to the world's reminders rather than God's reminders. So, let God, and not those around you, do the reminding in your life and let Him guide your process towards purity.
Third, only employing a "boundary" strategy for our purity is a losing proposition. I tried a boundary-only approach before and only extended my losing streak. Our core perspective on purity has to come from within us, not from boundaries outside of us. We must clearly understand the impact of sin on ourselves, those around us, and the body of Christ. This includes viewing sin as God does -- Try this, think of the most disgusting thing you could ever eat.....now add a nice layer of warm, spoiled mayonnaise on top of it.....and now sprinkle some day-old hair from a barber shop floor on top of it.....and now picture eating it. Taste good? Your disgust is how we should view sin in our life. If we share God's heart towards sin in our life, boundaries have a much more effective influence on helping us remain pure. But if our sin is more attractive to us than our obedience to God is, then no boundary is going to work long-term. So, make your battle with purity a heart issue first, and then set up the proper boundaries to protect your heart....and eyes....and mind.
There is a woman in my life that I am interested in. When we hang out together we flirt, and it seems reciprocated, but when I ask her to go for some one on one talking time, she always seems to come up with plans. Is this a relationship that I should pursue, I mean, does this seem like a "playing hard-to-get" thing or could it just be a flirt for convenience thing?
It is hard to tell whether this is a "I'll play hard to get because I want you to have to pursue me" or a "you are a convenient and fun flirt, but nothing more" deal. Recognize that Scripture teaches husbands to honor their wife. Part of honoring her is pursuing her...as if she is an honored Princess (which she is) that deserves pursuit.
So, the pursuit is an important aspect of any dating or marriage relationship. However, a pursuit of a girl who is only interested in your recreation pursuit when it is convenient for her is something to stay far away from.
What I would recommend is to put the ball a bit in her court by letting her know that you are interested in grabbing lunch or some coffee with her and then asking her when she is available. If she is interested in you, then she will want to spend time with you. If she wants to spend time with you, then she will find some time to make it happen. If she still pulls away, even when you leave the timing completely up to her, then you will have your answer.
Matthew 5:7 says for our 'no' to really mean 'no' and our 'yes' to really mean 'yes' - not to put on any kind of verbal facade of any kind. If her verbal "yes's" when you hang out consistently turn into "no's" when asked for more time with her, it should be clear that her motives may only be the attention she wants when it is convenient for her....and then you can focus your attention elsewhere.
saturday april 5, 2008
.flirt to convert
Recognize that her being at Vintage to hear God's Word spoken, sung, and lived out in front of her will never be a bad thing. Isaiah 55:11-12, says, "So shall My Word be that goes forth. It shall not return unto Me void but shall accomplish what I please." So, her being surrounding with quality people, a cool environment, and a context of worshipping God is not going to be a bad deal.
However, your motives (or lack of romantic motive) need to be very clear to her. She needs to see the authenticity in your actions, character of your heart, and consistency of your words. Women will read into every little action and word from you, whether you have motive in them or not (this was valuable insight provided to me from Laura, my amazing wife, who knows the female mind waaaaay better than me!). So, if you ask her to come to Vintage again, she may very easily read that you are interested in her romantically. You can innocently ask if she is coming back to Vintage, without asking her to come to Vintage. Did you catch the subtle difference there? To us guys, this difference may be immaterial. But to girls, it is everything. Just asking if she is coming to Vintage demonstrates a lower level of romantic interest than asking her to come to Vintage...but still reflects your concern for her hearing and seeing truth.
So, don't drop the entire Vintage subject, but tread carefully.
Is she wants to come, but needs a ride, don't pick her up for Vintage alone. Ask one of your female friends to pick her up, or take a female friend or two with you to pick her up.
Also, don't linger with her all night while you are at Vintage. Introduce her to some great Christian girls who you trust and who can hang out with her at Vintage. Let her see what healthy Christian friendships look like. Don't feel like you need to be her support system and crutch. Make sure she clearly sees that your stance on dating non-Christians is a real heart commitment. She will completely respect that and if she is changed by Jesus, then she will dig your authentic commiment even more.
thursday april 3, 2008
.dating an unbeliever
What does God say about Christian men dating non-Christian women? Should a Christian pursue a relationship with an unbeliever?
Great question and one I wrestled with and rationalized about for a long time. Try some of these on...perhaps you are already wearing some of them.
"She doesn't know Christ....yet. That is why I am in her life"
"But, dude, she is HOT"
"If I break up, I will break her heart"
"If we break up, she will lose all spiritual influence in her life."
Bottom line, dating is for one reason and that is marriage. So, if you are not thinking about marrying who you are dating, then you should not be dating them. If she does not have Christ in her life, then she has another god in her life....and there is a good chance that it is called "attention". So, if her god is attention in her life, do you really think this will change when you get married? At some point your attention won't be enough any more and she will look elsewhere. Remember that she has another god capturing her heart and it is not Christ.
While you all may have a great time together and really "gel", you are fundamentally different at the core. You may share opinions on moral and ethical issues, but the foundation of these opinions are completely different. Her opinions are being shaped by the world and yours are being shaped by God's Word. At some point these WILL be opposed to each other. Her opinions can change quickly....and will. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" Light and darkness, no matter how hard they try or how much they want to can not co-exist.
Why do some guys who are very close to God date the girls who are farthest from God? I just don't get it....or maybe I do understand a bit. We, as men, were created to rescue, to pursue, to provide for. Could these guys be thinking that they, through their relationship with this girl, actually rescue her from her sin....to be her functional savior? Perhaps. But how crazy is that line of thinking? We can't change anyone, let alone save anyone. Let Jesus do what only He can do - don't try to act like you are going to be her savior.
And, don't even get me started on the consequences of marrying a non-believer on the most difficult job in the world, raising kids. It is hard enough with a mom and dad who have the same foundation. Raising kids on two foundations - one of God and one of the world.....now there is some trouble. Dad reads the Bible and gives the glory to Jesus -- Mom reads People and gives the glory to the horoscope. Try that one on as a 6 year old trying to figure out truth, trust, and life.
Need any more reasons not to date a non-believer??? Hope not, but in case you do, here's one more. Let's say she actually does meet Jesus while you are dating her (note, remember that this was not because of any power you had). Then she starts learning about God's word and realizes that you were choosing to disobey God's word by dating her. She then gets confused, perhaps angry, and maybe even pulls away from God given the hypocrisy that has been dating her. At the minimum, she loses trust in your walk and character and that does not bode well for her view of God.great question, thanks.
monday march 31, 2008
.ready to date?
What do you do when you are interested in someone but are afraid you might not be able to control your lust if you start seeing them?
Then you are not ready to date them. Remember that you should not date someone unless you would consider marrying them. Also, doubting your ability being able to control your lust is essentially saying that you are not ready to care and love as God loves….because if you were really "interested in someone" and that interest was pure and led of God, then you would do whatever it took to protect her and her purity. Of course, this does NOT mean that you are NOT attracted to her – that level of chemistry needs to be there too. But there needs to be a mutual commitment to protecting each other’s purity and keeping the boundaries that you put into place together. If you do not feel like you can be the relationship leader from the purity perspective, then you are not ready to be in a relationship. There is too much at stake when it comes to purity in a dating relationship at so many levels – physically, emotionally, mentally, and most importantly spiritually – to let your lust go out of control.However, I am stoked that you are thinking preemptively about a relationship, knowing that temptation is coming and that Satan will try to convince both of you to sacrifice your purity – that God is keeping something from you – that it is not that big of a deal. His lies are not new – check the Garden of Eden for the exact same lies… and while you are at it, check the exact same consequences for believing the lies. Satan’s methods may change, but the fundamental truths and lies remain the same. Temptation will come, but you can prepare yourself to win the battles. Study I Corinthians closely, as Paul lays out truths for a Corinthian society which was much like modern day America.
Fire in my fireplace at home is pretty awesome, as long as it stays in the fireplace. Fire outside of those boundaries would only mean destruction for my home. Dating and marriage can be incredible and amazing, if exercised within the guidelines under which they were designed.