Your wife as your “lifesaver”

David Burnell gave a powerful testimony about his marriage and life this morning and he urged us on to the higher standard.  He challenged us to vulnerability with our wives.  He taught us about his guardrails, how he’s shared those with his wife and how he needs her help in accountability to those.  It was beautiful.  He share this from the RH daily reading…

Ezer Kenegdo | Ransomed Heart Ministries<!–

Eve is given to Adam as his ezer kenegdoor as many translations have it, his “help meet” or “helper.”  Doesn’t sound like much, does it? It makes me think of Hamburger Helper.  But Robert Alter says this is “a notoriously difficult word to translate.”  It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means lifesaver.”  The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately. “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you” (Deut. 33:26). 

Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally.  It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given.  It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.

Flee baby flee

Remember a guardrail is a system designed to keep us from drifting into dangerous or off limit areas.  There is a line out there for me that once I cross it, I violate my standards and realize there is a consequence that will hurt the people I love the most.

In every area of your life where there is desire, you need a guardrail.  With sexual intimacy, you need reinforced steel.

You can recover from other disasters.  Financial disaster, if given enough time and discipline, you can recover and prosper and it’s a lesson learned.  Education – you can flunk out but get back in school, go to summer school, graduate and then it’s just a funny story you tell your kids about.  Professional disaster – you can get fired, go bankrupt but you can recover.

But in sexuality, those are the stories no one laughs about now.  The damage done in this area stays with you.

Because intuitively, we know, that sex is not just physical.  It’s way deeper than that.  When we cross certain lines in physical intimacy, there are things we can carry with us the rest of our lives.  Culture says that sex is just physical and no one gets hurt but we know better.  The damage, the guilt and the memories follow us through our lives.

1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul gives us a strong but simple command, “Flee from sexual immorality.”

Flee.  Not “be careful”.  Not “watch out”.  Not get as close to the line as you can without going over.  No.  It says “flee”.  And let’s be honest, this is what you want your wife to do.  For goodness sakes, it’s what you want your daughter doing.  Don’t kid yourself, it’s what you should be doing.  But when it comes to “me”, I don’t flee.  I flirt.

Culture will bait you right up to the line and then mock you if you take the bait and cross the line.  So, guard yourself.  Have that line you will not cross.  Don’t play with this.

For Christians, there is an even greater incentive – “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”  I Cor 6:19

“You are not your own: you were bought at a price”.  You have been purchased from sin.  You don’t have to give into your desires and appetites.  I am the master of my body because my body is now under the authority of God.

“Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  The litmus test – whenever you’re about to act, ask yourself “Is this dishonoring to God?”  Ask it.  The Holy Spirit indwells you.  Whatever you’re about to do, you’re bringing it in alongside the Spirit.  Ask Him.  Listen for that “voice clearing” He’ll warn you if you listen.  If it doesn’t honor God … don’t even think about it.  Don’t look at it.  Don’t ponder it.  Decide to honor God daily in all you do with your body.

You will not regret these guardrails.  They are not extreme at all in this culture.  They should be your standard operating procedure.  It’s more possible than you think – once you’ve made your mind up.

Married folks

  1.  Don’t travel alone with members of the opposite sex.
  2.  Don’t eat alone with members of the opposite sex. Every affair he’s dealt with, except one, began with a meal.
  3.  Don’t hire cute members of the opposite sex because you want to help them. Don’t deceive yourself.
  4.  Don’t confide in/counsel members of the opposite sex. “They need me”.    They need help.  They don’t need you.  When your emotional world gets entwined with her emotional world, you’re in trouble.  Intimacy begins with the emotional.  Watch out.
  5.  When you feel your heart/desire drifting to another woman, tell someone. Find a man you trust and tell him.  By speaking this out, you’re bringing it out of the darkness and into the light.  (hard to do but perhaps is your most powerful guardrail)

Your guardrails – your wife needs to know what they are and she needs to be comfortable with your guardrails and standards.

Single people

  1.  Same rules as the married people – except you are not to do these things with married people i.e. not travel with a married woman, not counsel a married woman, not eat a meal with a married woman.
  2.  No sleep overs.  Remember sex is not just a physical act.  It bonds you to that woman.  Even if it’s “just a date” or “just having fun”, you are bonding with her and very importantly, she is bonding with you.  You’re creating a soul tie.  Don’t kid yourself.  Women don’t hook up.  They bond.  Sex is like glue for them emotionally.  So while you might be “just hooking up”, she’s bonding to you and you’re responsible for the pain a future breakup might do to her.  Remember a guardrail is there to protect you from that thing you’ll regret the most.
  3.  Take a relationship break. Take a year off.  If “date” has become synonymous for “sex”, you need to stop dating.  Take a break.  Give God a year to renew your mind and heart.

I will promise you, you will not look back in five years and regret these guardrails.  Intimacy in marriage is fueled by exclusivity.  If your wife knows you only have eyes for her and if she can trust you completely, your intimacy will grow.  After all, it isn’t sex you want, it is intimacy.  You want to be known.  Intimacy starts with guardrails.  Learn to honor God with your body and He will reward you with a relationship of intimacy. 

Fathered by God – The Lover

Stage starts in your teens and runs your whole life.  Comes in really strong in your 20’s and 30’s.  The girl awakens the lover heart in you.  You all remember this.  You remember when the girl first awakened something in you.  Here is a priceless clip from the Wonder Years that captures that moment we all experienced …

Haunted by her beauty – she represents “All the beauty that he longed for beyond the beauty that was in her”.  You see, Eve captures us but the inner longing is larger than her. The longing we have for beauty – yes, she can represent it – but there is more.

This stage is primarily about the awakened heart.  Most men hide in reason and analysis but the heart is where the action is. “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”. This is so important because when the woman comes along, she will want access to your heart – not your reason and your analysis.  Your heart.  She is not a problem to be solved.  She doesn’t want to be fixed.  She is a mystery to be loved and enjoyed.

Our hearts are wounded at this stage often through experiences of rejection or abandonment where we come to resent the longings of beauty and love in our hearts.  Or … when we have sexual experiences too soon that go too deep and she breaks up with us and breaks our heart making it hard for us to then trust our heart to another woman.

When the heart gets shut down, we need to invite God in to father us and heal the wounded places.  And we need to go back into those old, broken relationships and break soul ties and ask the Father for forgiveness for our sin.

This whole stage of manhood is about finding an intimacy with God.  It is finding what makes you come alive – the oceans, mountains, water, woods.  Find what awakens your heart – the places that make you come alive and as you go there, you can feel the presence of God.  In these places, you realize God is bigger.  He has a much grander vision for you than just Eve.  She isn’t meant to be the “end all and be all” of your existence.  There is more…


This is the crucial thing … How you pursue a woman’s heart is not to go and see what you can get but rather what strength you can give to her.  It is a shift from looking to “get” vs. a looking to “give”.  Most men don’t get this.  Our souls are created for beauty…to drink it in.  Beauty nourishes the soul.  God hardwired that in you.  The desire is innate.  It is Excurvatus Ex Se – a life lived outward instead of the Incurvatus – an inwardly focused life.

The rescue from the vicious cycle we typically fall in of “take, take, take” from her to get our validation – to – discovering there is something transcendent I am longing for that goes beyond Eve.  It comes from God.

Make no mistake, Eve is intoxicating.  “The naked woman’s body is too much of eternity for the eye of man to behold”.  She is amazing.  She is captivating.  She’s meant to be.  BUT we need something greater.  You need more than Eve.  God is the rescue from this.

As we spend time in those places outside Eve that restore us, we start to realize that God inhabits the beauty.  Fly fishing on the stream late into the day, drinking in the beauty.  It is beyond Eve.  He’s there in the sunsets, on the stream, at the beach, hiking the mountains. He’s there.  Those things you love, He’s there.

This is tough because Eve is available and present and within arm’s reach and it is easy for us men to believe “she’s enough”.  But the truth is, you can be embraced by something even more beautiful than Eve.  Really.  That is possible.  Yes, and in fact, it is even more loving than Eve.  Mercy.  Healing.  Comfort.  The Father brings all this.  Spending time with the Father in communion is healing.  You disentangle.  It is something that goes way beyond her.

When you realize that God can, in fact, provide for you in ways Eve can’t, it actually helps you love Eve better because you are no longer depending on her to come through as a fountain for you.

Soul ties

Watch this video from Andy Stanley on “Sex is not just physical” from the 2:30 mark through 16:00

please see the attached slides from today >ManSchool pornography 3

We’re all given the capacity for many things – the capacity for love, for worship, for sex, etc.  But just because God gives us capacity, it does not mean we’ll always deploy that capacity in the right manner i.e. many of us “worship” the wrong things – being popular, money, material possessions, a pain-free life, etc.  Many of us use love in the wrong manner and certainly, many of us are using or have used the incredible gift of sex in the wrong way.

In the same way, we’re all given the ability to bond and that too can be used in the wrong way.  We can bond to others in emotionally unhealthy and destructive ways.  Genesis 2:24 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”  The word “united” here is the same word for “knit together”.

“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body – for it is said, “the two become one flesh”.  1 Corinthians 6:16-17            

Unites = joined together or knit together = yoked together.

This uniting is God’s design for marriage and only for marriage.  It is beautiful and wonderful and powerful.  Andy does a great job describing the power of two souls united in marriage crashing into each other with passion, power and no fear, no comparison.  But for many of us, we gave that away long before we were married and in lots of cases, we gave it away to many other partners.  And so to think “that was just college and it didn’t mean anything” is simply foolish.  If God declares the sexual act to be one that “knits you together” then it applies to anyone you’ve been intimate with.  Sex isn’t just physical.  It’s never “just sex” – it’s always more.  No matter how hard the culture tries to tell us “it’s just physical, just a hook-up, no one gets hurt“, it simply isn’t true.  The Word of God is true.  Sex is more – way more – than just physical.  Many good Christian men – because they gave this away many times before marriage – now find themselves unable to engage intimately with their wife and have instead turned to porn to satiate their needs.  Many good Christian women – because they gave themselves away perhaps with multiple partners seeking love – now find themselves numb and unable to desire a sexual relationship with their husbands.  Sex is more than just physical.

And so all these former lovers … we have soul ties to them.  In some cases, the remains of those soul ties still exist 30+ years after the relationship.  Why is that?  Why is it that you can remember all the intimate details of the girl you slept with in high school or college?  Why is it that you can replay the “tape” of every liaison in graphic detail?  Why is it that in times of distress or loneliness – or – in times of drought in your marriage intimacy that you can “go back” to these memories as a sort of comfort?  It is because you gave a part of your soul away to that young women.  Perhaps you even made declarations/agreements like “no one will ever love me the way you love me” or “I can never feel this way with another woman“.  Most people find they cannot find sexual wholeness and true sexual intimacy and freedom in their marriage until they permanently break those old soul ties.

You bonded together.  It wasn’t a hook up.  It was deep, it was emotional, you pinned many hopes on her and those acts you did together.  You were knitted together.  You were yoked together and if you find yourself today struggling with intimacy in your marriage and sexual intimacy, it very likely is because those soul ties are still there.  If you are maintaining gifts from  your former girlfriends, pictures of the two of you, love letters, if you are looking them up on Facebook to just see how they look and see what their life is like, etc., then you are maintaining that relationship and feeding it.  Remember – what you feed grows and what you starve diesIt’s time to kill off those old memories and break those soul ties. 

How do you break a soul tie?  The first thing is to open this up to prayer and preferably with a peer or mentor to enter into a listening prayer session 1) where you be still and quiet your soul   2) exercise authority over the enemy   3) invoke God’s presence and invite God openly to thoroughly search your soul.  This is a “let’s be honest” session where you truly open up your soul to say, “Lord, who is that I am still holding onto?  What memories are there that I still cling to?”  4) Ask God to speak to you   5) wait in silence and write down your impressions of what God is showing you.

In the slides attached are some other examples of prayers/way to pray to break soul ties – but the key principle is this, inviting the Cross of Jesus Christ permanently in between you and this other person(s).  That I have given my high school girlfriend/college girlfriend or these random hook-ups a part of my soul.  That the sex was more than just a physical exchange, it was a deeply emotional bonding which was wrong and naïve and costly in hindsight.  And so, I need to place the Cross of Jesus Christ now between me and ________.  That was the past, it was a mistake and once and for all, I need to confess it and lay it at the Cross and let Jesus deal with it and in so doing, those memories and that connection to this person are place “as far as the east is from the west”.  This is crucial — “it” is gone, dealt with, forgiven and forgotten and importantly, she is too.

“I bring the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ between me and _______.  I have been crucified to them as Galatians says and they to me through the Cross of Jesus Christ.  So by the Cross of Christ, I break and repent and renounce every unhealthy bond, every soul tie with this person.  I command their spirit to be bound back to their body (in other words – that “part” of them I took in just as I gave a part of me to them, I now command it back to them) and all their sin, warfare, struggles back to work of Jesus Christ in their life and I forbid it to transfer to me (in other words – I no longer carry them with me, I don’t carry their burdens, struggles, etc. I’m giving them back to Christ).  I allow only Jesus Christ between us, only the love of God and the bond of the Holy Spirit between us.  I pray this in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

This same prayer is also applicable to others in your life.  We can have soul ties that aren’t sexual.  We can give too much away in any relationship, pour too much into it and take too much from that other person and lump it on our shoulders to carry.  This can be an over-controlling mother who perhaps views you as a surrogate husband.  It can a dominating older brother.  It can be a boss that you put way too much stock in and he betrayed you.  These are people you cannot get out of your mind and there are conversations you continue to have in your head with this person (by the way, it’s never good to have a conversation with a person when they aren’t even in the room).  If so, these are signs that this person takes up way too much real estate in your soul.  It’s time to break this soul tie too.  And by the way, this isn’t cold or unfeeling.  This is holy.  It is taking a relationship say with your mom and removing the unholy part of the relationship and asking Christ back to His proper place in that relationship.

So what does this have to do with pornography?  Perhaps everything.  These sexual soul ties, I believe (and I think if you’re honest with yourself, you’d agree) have a direct link to the stimulation we seek in pornography.  These soul ties call out to us in our loneliness and we go back to those agreements we made like “I’ll never be able to feel this way with another woman” and deeper loneliness sets in and we reach out to porn to find some warmth and comfort only to find it’s a false god with deep hooks.

This is deep, deep stuff but I am convinced if you want freedom, if you want a whole, vibrant, passionate, pure, deeply intimate sexual relationship with your wife, that you need to embark on the tedious work of dredging this stuff out of the channels of your soul and break those to soul ties.

pornography & your heart – a frank discussion, man to man

Please see the attached slides as a part of this discussion > ManSchool pornography 2

The most devastating effect of pornography is on your heart.  You are turning to pornography because of a need in your heart to be validated as a man, to be comforted, affirmed.  You feel less than a man – perhaps because of a childhood wound or a failed relationship/marriage or a lack of intimacy in your marriage – and porn tempts you as a suitable fix to this heart wound.  Please don’t get me wrong, the set-up for this is legitimate.  Those are totally legit wounds but what you do with that wound, that pain, that aching loneliness is crucial.  If you take this wound to pornography instead of to the LORD, you are offering up your heart to an idol and as we saw in the last post, this false god has some deep, unseen, destructive hooks that trap you if you take the bait.

Porn promises a virtual world filled with sex – more sex, better sex.  What it fails to mention, conveniently, is that the further a user goes into that fantasy world, the more likely their reality is to become just the opposite.  Porn often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex and for many users, porn eventually means no sex at all.  Porn will rewire your brain.  Not it “might” rewire your brain … no … it “will” rewire your brain.  It has chemical properties and addictive powers equal to or exceeding that of heroin or crack cocaine.  Researchers have discovered that after being exposed to soft core sexual material, both men and women were significantly less happy with their partner’s looks, willingness to try new sexual acts, and their sexual performance.  Even being exposed to porn – just once – can make people feel less in love with their significant other.

When you look at porn, the sexual roadmaps in your brain are being redrawn.  If you have a sexual experience that feels good, your brain is flooded with dopamine and it creates a map to get back there.  You know, it is the “I eat the cookie, cookie tastes good, I want another cookie” syndrome.  The more you use porn, the wider this pathway becomes.  But your brain isn’t designed for this much stimulation and so eventually, your brain’s self-defense mechanism (isn’t God just brilliant?) kicks in and starts to shut down the dopamine receptors and as a result, the porn doesn’t seem as stimulating or arousing.  If you will STOP right here, you can quickly reverse this.  But if you want “another hit” and go looking for the thrill, you’re going to have to delve deeper into more porn, more graphic porn and disturbing patterns of behavior to get the same rush.

Erectile dysfunction is common in men with a pornography addiction for the reasons stated above.  The deeper you go into porn and the more you choose to allow your brain to be re-wired, the less that normal human sexual relations will stimulate you.  There are men who cannot have sex with their wives unless they are looking at porn – while in the act.  They cannot get or keep an erection without a constant, IV-like drip of porn to stimulate themselves.  Imagine the psychological impact to the wife of a man this far in?  It is no wonder that the wives of porn addicts or sex addicts can clinically be diagnosed as having suffered with PTSD.

This problem is showing up in colleges all across America.  Young men at their peaks sexually, when testosterone levels are the highest they’ll ever be in their life, cannot perform sexually.  Go back to the last post and read the stats on porn use among college men and you’ll find out why erectile dysfunction is now rampant among 18-22 year olds.  They have completely rewired their brains and cannot function.  And then, think about how this addiction and overload of porn has altered their perception of women.  Many college age men are now reporting they are completely “unable to have day to day relationships” with women.  They have trained their brain that women are simply objects to have all their needs met – that this is all they are good for – and so when they try to form a relationship with a young women, it is impossible.  I remind you, these are the boys coming to date your daughters.

The good news is that the world is waking up to this.  Psychology Today and other trade/medical journals as well as the national media are rightly giving this crisis much needed attention.  There are multiple websites and forums for college aged boys (and girls) to address their addiction and meet support groups to help them abstain.  One helpful site with tons of material and facts is which includes stats, videos and a blog to address this head on.

The other good news is that you can re-re-wire your brain.  College age men are discovering if they starve their brain of porn for 6-8 weeks, they can see a return of normal sexual responsiveness.  The morning erections return and they can relate to women and start to have relationships.  It isn’t easy.  As Psychology Today says, “It is 100% fixable.  It will likely be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done.  If you ever want a normal sex life again, you kinda don’t have a choice.” 

Remember, “What you feed grows, what you starve dies”.  If you keep feeding this addiction you have, if you keep rationalizing “I don’t do it all that much” and if you keep worshipping at the feet of this false god, it is only going to grow and eventually it will destroy everything in your life you hold so dear.  There is the SMACK between the eyes.  WAKE UP!!!  This false god, this idol promises you all these good things at the intro and then sucks you in deeper with the intent of destroying you.  Read that again – this idol sucks you in promising you all these good things and then sucks you in with the intent of destroying you.  This kills your heart.  It tells your heart that you are no good, you are worthless and unlovable.  It’s a lie!

Men, you can reclaim your good heart.  You can defeat the enemy through the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus and the power of the Cross.  If you will starve this addiction and take the needed steps to never go back again, your attraction to this idol will diminish.  Take your heart to Jesus.  Let Jesus speak into those childhood wounds.  Let Jesus Father you.  Let Jesus take the lack of sexual intimacy in your marriage and your desire for “more, more, more” and let Jesus guide you through that towards restoration of what a healthy married sex life can and should look like.  You are not going to be defined by how little you and your wife have sex.  If she has no desire and makes no effort to try to restore her desire, there isn’t much you can do about that except take that to Jesus.  That desire you have to be known and affirmed and validated is never meant to be taken to Eve.  It has always meant to be taken to the LORD.  Take it to Jesus and let Him Father and guide you.  Hear what He has to say to you in all this.

If you have a problem, confess it.  Today.  Right now.  In the name and the blood of Jesus and then, pick up the phone and call someone who can help you.  The first step is admitting you have a problem.  Bring it into the Light.  In the darkness, it is eating you up.  Bring it to the Light, tell a trusted friend, find a strong Christian counselor, go online and sign up for one of the many online accountability/restoration groups is one such source.  Do your part to find your help but the first step is saying “I have a problem”.  Take it to Jesus and let Him father you and get some help.  You’ll feel an enormous sense of relief as you step towards the Father for restoration.

With you in this battle…

thought I’d share this with you…

ManSchool was great this morning.  God moved.  But as I left and headed to work, I had this sense that today was going to be a battle.  Indeed it was.  A…real…tough…battle.  And in this, I struggled to let “LORD God” be LORD.  I struggled to release the burden of the battle and it ate at me all day.  It simply took me out.  All sorts of accusations and condemnations came against me.

Can you relate?

We all have days like this.  We all face epic battles when forces feel united to conspire against us.  Thankfully late this afternoon it was released.  God freed me.  I walked after work and heard an amazing sermon from Mosaic on when we think God is disappointed in us.  The gist of the sermon is that we are way too hard on ourselves.  We embrace guilt and shame.  And yet, God promised in Psalm 103 “As far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us.”  Gone.  Forgotten.  Blotted out.  Gone.

And as I listened to this sermon and that the shame of our mistakes do WAY more damage than the actual mistake — read that again — the shame that you carry is doing way more damage than the actual mistake.  Jesus took it.  It’s His.  He’s blotted it out and you can’t go back in the past and get a do-over because it isn’t there anymore.  It’s gone.

So I was released.  Freed.  “He came to set the captives free”. 

And I got a nice little gift at sundown.  I got a cross painted by the Master in the glorious sunset.  LiveUP!



“What do I do with this?” part II

“I’ve got to get this promotion…”
“If only I could…”
“If only she would…”
“Why can’t my child get out of this funk?”
“Why has my marriage grown so cold and distant?”

What do you do with this?  What do we do with desire?  Is it wrong or selfish or sinful to desire?  When we live with these unmet desires for a long time, they begin to take on a life of their own.  They begin to possess us.  We start to obsess over them.  We talk about them, strategize over them, take pills to fix them, engage counselors to work us through them…and they persist.

We exhaust ourselves trying to fix them, conquer them, make them go away.  And they persist.

We all have crosses to bear.  Why is that?  Why won’t God “bless me” and just take away this one stubborn, nagging thing that sticks in my side like a needle?  Is God holding out me?  What have I done wrong to miss this blessing?

Can you relate to this?

At dinner the other night, a brother essentially said to me, “You know I get all this John Eldredge, Men’s Fraternity, ManSchool stuff.  I get the “father-wound thing” and all that but I am never taught what I am to do with it.”  In other words, it persists.

So as we said in last night’s post, there are two usual paths we take with these desires – one, we dive into desire head-first.  Go “all in” and give ourselves over to the desire and things don’t go so well.  This is where addiction comes in.  The second choice is we just simply kill desire.  Kill it.  Stuff down any inkling of desire when we first feel it.  “Been burned once, not going there again.”  And we harden our hearts.  We harden our exterior.  We don’t allow anything in and we become a numb, Christian zombie walking about feeling nothing, able to give nothing.

These are the two extremes.  There is a middle and this is what we are to do with all of these things we’ve been talking about.  This is why the John Eldredge/ManSchool/Men’s Fraternity stuff doesn’t work for us…

What we need to do to make it work is simply —– invite God into this.

Invite Him into your most poignant struggle.  Stop obsessing over it.  Give it up to Him.  You see, if you do this on your own, here’s what you’ll do (back to the sex example) – there is no frequency so you begin talking about it with her.  You buy books.  You read everything you can get on the topic.  You go back some more to her with this “new knowledge you have” and the frequency falls off even more.  You talk to Keith about it.  You talk to your small group about it.  You start getting angry.  The frustration grows.  Nothing you are doing is working and, in fact, the more you think about it, the worse it gets.

And I believe God is lovingly saying, “Ummm…no kidding.  That didn’t work out too well for you?  Really?”. 

You see God gives us this freedom.  He gives us the freedom to choose the path we take and when we tell him, “Thanks God, give me the wheel, I’ve got this”, God will back off and let us drive off into the sunset of our own making.

Man takes this issue – be it sex in our marriage or money or saving my business or restoring a broken relationship with our Dad or our own child – and wrests control of it from God and goes down all these paths (books, blogs, talking to others, counseling, etc.) trying desperately to fix it.

And all along the way, God is there and He is waiting.  He awaits the return of the prodigal son.  He waits for the fool to come to his senses and see the wreck he has let his life become.  “You shall have no other gods before me…”

It is pretty darn clear.  No other gods before.  You… shall… have… no other gods before me.  So as I re-read this very familiar passage, I was struck by the finality of it.  I believe He is telling His Chosen that He will thwart their efforts to have other gods.  Yes, it is a commandment – no other gods – but I think it is deeper than that.  I think God is telling us…

1) you are going to turn from Me

2) you will chase other gods/idols

3) I will NOT let you have them

4) Something out there that you are trying to possess will become a cross you must bear

In other words, for all of us, we will not get all of our desires.  We will face short-falls and set backs.  God blesses us.  We have hard times.  We have hard times.  God blesses us.  Hard times.  Hard times.  Hard times.  Hard times.  Hard times.  God blesses us.  He blesses us again.  Hard times.  Hard times…

We desperately want God to take those hard times away and we just want the blessings.  When we’ve taken control of the wheel, invited God out of the car and driven off into our sunsets living our lives as we think we deserve to live, how can we expect God to bless that?

No, I think God allows each of us to have these crosses to bear for a reason.  He radically desires intimate relationship with you.  That’s it.  That’s the solution to why “all this John Eldredge stuff” doesn’t actually work.  That’s why your sex-life isn’t as fulfilling as you think you deserve.  That’s why God hasn’t blessed your business in the way you think you should be being blessed.  You haven’t invited God into these areas of your life.  Books…counseling…blogs…chasing deals…trying to hit homeruns…more counseling…more talking to your pastor/friends…

(Aside – I am not saying good Christian counseling is not helpful – it many cases, it is extremely effective.  Deep struggles, addictions, etc. need professional help and I endorse that but even in these, we must invite Jesus into these struggles)

We chase after all these “solutions” to get what we want but we never invite God into it.  You see, I cannot “fix” my wife anymore than she can fix me.  I cannot make our sex life ideal.  That may be something that always remains weak and sub-par.  I cannot “fix” my money problems.  If I make $80,000 a year and need to make $200,000 to have the life we need, I just can’t magically fix that.

What I can do is invite God into these areas.

I can give up control of this cross I carry and hand it to Him.  What He desires is intimacy with you.  An “Abba Father” type relationship.  “You matter God.  Sex doesn’t.  Money doesn’t.  Power doesn’t.  Respect doesn’t.  A healed relationship with my Dad doesn’t.  You matter Jesus.  I want you Lord Jesus.  I trust You.  You know what is best for me.  I invite you into this struggle I am having.  I am through trying to solve it myself.  I’m tired of reading about it, talking about, worrying about it.  I trust you Lord Jesus.  You take the wheel.  I need you to lead me.  I desire a daily walk with you.  I want conversational intimacy with you in all things but especially with ______.  When the thoughts come to mind Lord, I am going to be asking you what to do with them.  I release ________ to you.  It’s yours.  I cannot fix it.  I can’t solve it.  I cannot heal it.  Come Lord Jesus, come.  Show me your plan, your path, your direction for my life.  I need you right here, right now.”

That’s it men.  Stop trying to fix life.  Invite Jesus into your most intimate struggles.  Give it over to Him and I believe when you do, you will begin to see a radical shift in your thinking about this “must have” thing that’s out there.


“What do I do with this?” part 1

That deep, unmet longing you have.  That desire.   What do you do with it?

It may be a job you’ve always dreamed of – or – a wife – or – just someone to truly love you – or – financial freedom – or – a great relationship with our Dad.  We all have “something”.  There is this “something” out there that just seems to be out of reach.  No matter how hard we try, it remains illusive.

why is this?  Is God holding out on us?

dangerous thinking.

For many men — just to be totally open with you — it is sex.  The desire for a deep, fulfilling sex-life with our wives.  For her to want this as much as we do.  And, by the way, the desire ultimately isn’t about the sex.  No, the desire is for intimacy.  There is that word again…desire.

But what if that is illusive?  What if she just doesn’t have the desire?  She’s too tired, frustrated with the kids or just isn’t interested.  This persists for quite some time.  You talk about it.  She says she’ll pay more attention.  But nothing changes and the frequency falls off even more.

What on earth is a man to do with this?

What typically happens is one of two things but before those emerge, hostility grows.  Resentment.  Bitterness.  Isolation.  Heartache.  And the more we focus on it, the larger the issue becomes.  We start to focus on “it” – be it money or sex or position or that job or that car – and we begin to believe “My life would be complete if only I could have _____”

Have you ever felt this way?  Is there something right now, this very second that comes to mind that is this “it” for you?  The thing that steals your attention.  The thing you seem to obsess over?  The thing that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to shake it?

We all have a cross to bear.

So what do we typically do with this cross?  One of two things.  One, we dive head-first into it.  We give ourselves over to the desire.  We pursue the desire with reckless abandon and it leads to addiction and damage.  Follow me on the sex thing – so it isn’t happening.  We talk about it.  I buy books on the subject.  I read blogs.  I start to focus on it.  The more I dig, the more apparent it is that she isn’t going to come around.  The more I dig, the more I crave it.  The more I crave it, the less it happens.  It feeds on itself.  This desire becomes a monster that grabs all my attention.  I begin to shift from wanting this or desiring this to believing “I have to have it”.  And very easily, we turn to porn or another woman…“If I can’t get intimacy with my wife, I’ll get it on my own.”  And then the real problems set in.

It reminds us of Adam & Eve – there was this one thing they couldn’t get that they came to believe they “had” to have and so they took matters into their own hands.  We know what happened.

So option one is, we dive into it.  Option two is, we deny desire.  We shut it off.  At the first hint of a desire for something, we slap it down as “self” taking control and we do everything we can to kill desire…“To be truly Christ-like, I must kill all desire”.  Ummm…no, that isn’t the idea.  If we follow this path, we’ll harden our heart.  If I decide in my marriage to kill all my desire for sex, I will shut down all intimacy completely.  We’ll become roommates instead of husband/wife.  Any twinge of desire I feel for her and I’ll slap my own hand away and say, “No, desire is wrong and selfish, I shouldn’t have these feelings” and so I will harden my exterior and put up walls lest I be tempted to desire for her.  What kind of marriage would that path produce? I shudder to think.

Change the topic on this to dreaming and success.  If I dive into it no matter the cost, I will lose myself in the pursuit.  Success will become my only reason for living.  The world will suck all of me away as I chase success.  I might get it but what else will I lose in the addiction to success?  Conversely, if I shut down my dreams and my drive…what becomes of me?  If I live my life killing off all my dreams, creativity and all my desires for success…what then?  What kind of person results from that?  Is that really why God put this desire in me so that I can kill it off?  Did he create me with this desire and creativity and ability to innovate just so I could kill it off?

No, listen, desire is good.  I believe God gave us these desires for a reason.  My physical desire for my wife is good.  It is good!  God gave me a sex drive for a reason.  He gave Eve to Adam for a reason.  Intimacy, a help-mate, a companion, someone to tend to the garden alongside him.  What is this a picture of?  This intimate relationship model that is marriage?  It is a picture of the kind of relationship God wants with you.  He radically desires (there is that word again) intimacy with you.

So the answer isn’t in diving head-first into desire and making desire your “God”.  Nor is the answer to kill off desire as some evil sin.  The answer is in the middle.  Stay tuned for the next post.