notes from today

What a blessing it was to have Keith Cowart share his message with us.  It was an important word for us to hear and it continues to drive at this same theme we’ve been pursing all fall of “Which Kingdom Will I Serve?”

We all come from broken homes and dysfunctional family structures and now, perhaps, the family we are responsible for is, itself, dysfunctional.  The cure comes in knowing our stories, understanding the patterns of behavior we choose, and understanding what is beneath the pain.  Do we have a “herd mentality” or a “blame displacement mentality” or do we always seek the “quick fix”?

There is a reason underneath these paths.  We’ll be talking more about this in coming weeks.

Here are Keith’s notes from this morning… Man School Failure of Nerve

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living on the edge

here are the slides from this morning >> Which Kingdom 4 – living on the Edge

Here is Andy Stanley’s talk we watched >> http://justaskit.org/edged-out

you can find this entire sermon series at justaskit.org 

Isn’t it true, when tempted, that you have self-conversations where you talk yourself into it?  Our greatest regrets?  We were there before, during and after.

We start “thinking ourselves” into a dumb decision.

“There’s nothing wrong with.  Nothing wrong with.  Nothing wrong with…” and we talk ourselves right up to the line/edge – we excuse it, excuse it, excuse it.

We all do this – it is a bad idea to assume that if something is not “wrong”, then it’s right.  If there is nothing wrong with it, in general, then it is right for me.  That’s a bad idea.  As a believer, I am commanded to live above merely right and wrong.  You can get into a lot of trouble doing things that are just not “wrong”.

Bad moral decisions are generally preceded by a series of unwise decisions.

There’s nothing wrong with…

            Having lunch with her – “after all, we all work together”

            Having dinner with her – “we all worked late”

            Just she and I working late together

            Confiding in her – “you know, my marriage isn’t going so great”

            Listening to her

            Dropping by her place

            A hug

If a friend saw this pattern developing, he’d sense a series of unwise decisions moving in an unhealthy direction.

The truth is, in this area, we will lie to ourselves long before we start lying to others.  And, I will have a hard time admitting what anyone on the outside can see happening.

We move closer to the edge, closer to the edge and someone calls us out on it and we say, “hey, I’m fine” … closer to the edge, closer to the edge.

Living on the edge is fine if you’re counting calories but it is unwise in this area.  With moral things and expressions of sexuality, there are certain lines that if you cross, will create extraordinary regret and extraordinary complexity.

If there is a God that knows you, created you, cares for you and has a future planned for you, what would you expect God to say on this subject?  Go for it?  Walk the line?  No, we’d expect Him to say what any parent would say to his 17-year old son = “Not so close”

Paul told the church in Corinth (which was a pagan town, very secular) to “Flee from sexual immorality” 1 Corinthinans 6:18.  Don’t flirt with it.  Don’t see how close you can get to it.  No, flee.  Run.  Get as far away from it as possible.  It’s what you’d want your wife to do.  What any Dad wants his children to do.  What any 17-year old boy wants his 13-year old sister to do.

We all know this is right for those that we love – but – sometimes, we’re not so sure it is right for us.

“Flee from sexual immorality, all other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

Sexual sin is like no other sin – there’s nothing like it.  When someone walks into his office with extraordinary regret and complex things they’re trying to walk through, 90% of the time, there is something sexual involved.  People move on from all kinds of things but things sexual just seem to stick around.  Part of it is that we live in a culture that believes sex is just a physical act and then we realize, “I don’t think this is just physical, it effected my soul, my heart and my conscious and it effected how I view other women”.

—– ACTIONABLE ADVICE —–

The issue with sexual sin isn’t forgiveness – God forgives – the issue is consequences – which includes the damage done to you and your soul and the damage done to those closest to you.  We don’t think about it in the moment.  We progress down that sequence of events, we confided in one another, emotional bonds are formed and, like lighting a forest on fire, the situation rapidly gets out of control.  No, you don’t see it in the moment – in the moment it just feels “right” and you’ve found your “soul mate” (a lie) and it’s too late.  But…can’t you see?  Don’t you see how dangerous this is?  You can stop this before the forest catches on fire.  You stop it by fleeing.  When tempted, flee.  Don’t kid yourself and take the next “innocent” step.  Run … the other way.  Confess it.  Wall her off.  Tell your wife – you want to talk about a great way to kill this temptation off?  Tell you wife!  Bring it into the light.  Hide nothing.  And make it perfectly clear to this other woman, “nope, not going to happen, this ends now, you need to find a counselor”.  And then, perhaps most importantly, be brave enough to examine your sin.  “How did I get here?” — “What is it in me that needs this outside validation?” — “Which kingdom am I serving – my needs, my wants, my lust, my desire to be adored/valued — or — am I going to serve the Kingdom of God?”

Live, Live, Live…

In the context of Louie Giglio’s talk about “In the presence of my enemies, the Lord has prepared a table for me” and Andy Stanley’s “Guardrails” and then in the context of sex and temptation, please watch this very familiar film clip …

All the residents of heaven peering over the wall of the castle watching us here battle and struggle and the whole host of heaven, the cloud of witnesses are just cheering us on, just rooting for us, the coliseum just shouting “Live, Live, Live”.  They were rooting for his death moments ago.  There is some strength, some confidence that comes to us and we say – “You can call me whatever you want – stupid, idiot, seagull, failure – whatever that name was, whatever that message you were given.  You can put me in the crappiest circumstances but I KNOW who I am.” 

Men, if we forget that, or we’ve never heard it, or we lose it or we see so many signs that say “You can’t” or “You shouldn’t” or “Not you, maybe someone else, but not you”.  The wounds we have can just extend through the years and in face of those, how do you become that man?  You ask God.  You take all that you know and have read about your identity in Christ and all the truth about what God has done for you and you pound on the door and say, “Lord, take this and just embed it in my being.  Remove everything contra and counter that just shouts the truth down and assaults me.”

Maximus knew who he was.  He wasn’t afraid to face his enemy.  He stood in the face of tyranny and temptation and was a man who said, “No.  Not me.  I won’t give in.  There is a better way and I’m willing to die for what I believe in.”

It is same with you and me.  Temptation will come.  I must have my boundaries.  I must know who I am.  I must know what lines I will not cross.  Remember back to Louie – the enemy is always around.  He doesn’t sleep.  He doesn’t eat.  He’s awake 24/7 prowling around.  He reads your mail.  He knows where you are weak and he’ll try to exploit your weaknesses.

He’s looking for a crack.  A crevice.  A small opening.  Anything to try to get to you.  It can be a weakness in your character.  It can be a life experience – abuse, a dad who abandoned you, a failure of yours in business or a past relationship.

Or … it can be a door you open.  Get that.  You open it.  By opening the door, you invite it in.  An affair.  Porn.  You’re inviting a world of destruction upon you by peering into this.  PORN – by clicking on that link, you are literally inviting evil into your life.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  You’re inviting the destructive in to live among the Holy.

This is why Paul urges us with the command, “Flee from sexual immorality”.  Flee.  Run.  It couldn’t be clearer.  You honor God with your bodies – which are temples of the Holy Spirit.  The litmus test for us is “Is what I am about to do dishonoring God?”  If it dishonors God and his commands, flee.

We are calling one another UP to a higher standard.

So back to the image Craig shared with us,

When you’re contemplating flirting with that woman at work…

When you’re tempted to cruise her facebook page to peer at her pictures…

When you think about driving by her home…

When you’re tempted to surf some porn to try to find some relief …

When you’re contemplating compromising your beliefs …

Remember the whole host of heaven is peering over the wall looking down shouting the encouragement to you of “LIVE.  LIVE.  LIVE”.

 the-very-best-me

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. 

Sex. The front line of the war for your soul…

Here we go, diving into the deep waters with an entry that might really irritate you but as “watchmen on the wall”, we need to go after this…

Right up front, all of us struggle with this.  Testosterone is a hugely powerful hormone.  The younger the man reading this, the more intense the battle.  Add to that a sex-drenched culture and the devastating effects of free pornography all over your smartphone, the TV and the internet and we just all need to admit, “this is a problem”.  It is everywhere.  To try to battle this with accountability or denial or by cutting off any possible temptation (no TV, no internet, not looking at any other woman as you go about your day) isn’t going to work.  You cannot “purify” your way past this.

There is something much deeper at work here.  To battle it, we have to dig deep into the soil and find the root.  What’s behind this?  Beneath it?  What is the “why?” behind all of it.

Let’s start with Proverbs 3: 5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”.

The main aim of this verse is for us to walk in a straight path.  As we were saying in yesterday’s post, at this stage of life, the others around you – your wife, your children, your co-workers, your friends, your parents … all the people that are counting on youneed you to live your life well right now.  We need you to walk in a straight path.  The church is under assault in America.  Expect more of this.  Our church has been under some attack as well.

We have a country club/consumption culture in America fueled by iPhones, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, etc. giving us easy access to anything we want to see or do.  Our culture is soft.  Our kids are the “me generation”.  They’ve embraced relativism.  Things that should shock them and scare them … don’t.  We have transgender bathrooms at Target now.  If we offend anyone, we are outcast.  Listen to me, ALL of this is symptomatic of the all-out assault Satan has unleashed on the world.  It is a “me, me, me” world and it has invaded the church.  Think about it, if you were Satan wouldn’t you want to fuel an attitude of “Me.  It’s all about me”?  Think about Lucifer.  Why did the revolt happen in Heaven?  He was in love with himself.  He wanted to make it all about him.  God kicked him from Heaven and sent him to the earth and that “me spirit” has been unleashed on earth in a devastating way recently by the enemy.

We have a church culture that is creeping into this country club like atmosphere of “the church is here to provide for me, entertain me, give to me” and as a result, we’re having a hard time finding people willing to step up and serve.  We don’t have time to serve.  We’re too busy.  We come into church desperately needing to be refilled.  But we have little to give.  If we all embrace this attitude and don’t wake up and realize that isn’t how the church is supposed to operate, eventually the church will collapse for lack of any workers to “toil in the fields”.  And don’t you see, that is precisely Satan’s intent – permeate the culture with a “me” attitude and then sit back and watch it collapse upon itself – the culture and the church.  And you’re asking right now, “what does this have to do with sex?”  Stay with me…

We need you to live your life well right now.  The church faces a great challenge and it needs all of us to be at our best.  There is an enormous battle underway against the church and our culture right now.  Just watch an hour of Fox News at night and it is jaw dropping the nonsense that happens daily in America.  As warriors with Christ, we all have a role to play.   The “church” cannot survive if we remain in a childish “me” place.  It is time for the men of the church (at large) to manUP and put away childish things.  There are FAR greater battles underway,  FAR more at stake than how much sex you are getting weekly from your wife.  Ok, here we go…

The “why?” of this question is way deeper than any accountability group holding you accountable of “did you look at pornography this week?”  That isn’t going to come close to dealing with the issue.  THE issue is idolatry.  We have idolized sex.  Sex is our god…

“If I get sex two times a week from my wife, then I’m good”.  

“My wife won’t have sex with me.  I need a wife that will regularly love me and send me out daily affirming me as a man.  Imagine what mountains I could conquer if my wife did all she was supposed to do to affirm me as a man.”

“My wife hasn’t had sex with me in three weeks, I have needs that have to be met”

Please hear me, I am NOT condemning you as you read this.  All of these…I’ve said to myself more times than I can possibly count.  THIS is what we are dealing with.  This is the magnitude of this issue.  Sex has become our god.  If we get it, we’re all good.  As we said a few weeks ago in this post — https://manliveup.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/fathered-by-god-the-lover/  — we have fallen into the trap of “take, take, take” – that Eve is there for us to take from rather than being given to us to provide for.  We have come to look at our wives for what we can get from them.  That we can get our validation from her.  That she can make us a man.

That’s a dead-end street and I’ll tell you why.  If a married, Christian man falls into this trap of the quotes above, he is a sitting duck for pornography.  That set up, those demands we place on our women, they cannot be met.  There is never “enough sex”.  It cannot be satiated.  The more you feed your desire for sex, the more insatiable the appetite.  The more you think about sex and obsess over it, the more your hunger for it will grow.  Remember one of our foundational truths – “What you feed grows, what you starve dies”.   The trap the enemy has set for us is to feed us these lies of what we “could be” if we were getting enough sex.  It’s no different than “what my life could be like if I had more money.”  There is never enough money.  It’s a lie.  It’s a trap.  And we’ve fallen into it.  So we drink from this and take it in and she cannot meet those demands and we’re all torqued up with no place to go, and so… we turn to porn.  Some turn to other women thinking the grass surely must be greener on the other side.  It isn’t.

The “why” of this is deep.  It is the alter we have built to sex.  It is the belief that sex can fulfill every deep longing I have and equip me for the life I need to lead.  If I go without it, I feel as though I have no oxygen and I quickly find myself wandering into all sorts of trouble.  We have embraced the “me culture” and made sex “all about me”.  That’s a very small life.  That’s no way to love a woman.  It objectifies her, cheapens her and tears the fabric of her heart.  The message we send to our wives either outwardly with our spoken words — or — even more painfully in a silent, non-spoken rebuke of her is devastating to her heart and she’ll shut down.

If we come to our wife with requests (demands?) for weekly sex or 2-3x a week sex or if we go silent and turn to porn and masturbation we are almost childlike in our begging for our needs to be met.  We don’t have mastery over our body.  We are bringing no strength to our wives.  Our flesh is in control and desire burns.  Unfortunately, our weakness here carries consequences for the one who most depends and needs us to come through … our wives.

Let me wrap it up and try to tie it all together and drive home the point – Proverbs is driving us to “walking in the straight path”.  I don’t want you to… Keith doesn’t want you to… your Mama doesn’t want you to… God doesn’t want you to … veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor Him.  And men, I’ve got to say it and I hate writing this but getting drunk on sex, cruising into porn, getting yourself all torqued up and then masturbating is wasting your life.  Literally you are wasting your seed of life washing it down the sink.  It is childish and needy.  All because we worship at the alter of “I’ve gotta have a lot of sex”.

We need you to live your best life.  I need to live my best life.  A worthy life.  A life that is an inspiration to others.  As the great and now late, Craig McConnell said, “Do you live free?  Are you the man that has a strength and an intentionality and a movement to his life, towards God, towards others?  A man who rescues others, who lives well and loves well?”  That’s the man we need you to be.

We do that by trusting God with all our heart.  No, a sexless marriage isn’t what God intended but I trust Him.  I value Him more than I do sex.  Sex goes away at some point anyway.  God never does.  We trust in Him.  We bank on the promises of God, step by step of each day.  We draw upon the vine.  We trust in a good, Holy, loving, all providing God.  We don’t rely on our own understanding i.e. we don’t take matters into our own hands (literally).  “God I can’t understand why I am single now … but I trust you.  I’m not going out to find sex as a way to fill the ache in my soul.  My soul aches for You.”  We do not rely upon self.  If we trust in our own understanding it means we are being self-reliant = it’s up to me to make it happen.  So if I’m not getting sex, I’ll manufacture it.  Lastly, Proverbs encourages us to in all ways acknowledge Him.  That is to know Him.  To connect the branch to the Vine.  To draw upon his Zoe daily https://manliveup.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/best-of-manschool-branch-to-vine-1/.  To draw Him into everything, “Lord the sex thing is killing me, I give it over to You.  I trust You.  I need You.  Sustain me”.  Draw Him in to every situation, all day, every day.

And men, we need you to live your best life now because the church is under assault and our culture is burning around us.  Marriages are breaking up, kids are turning to porn, drugs, homosexuality … anything to find happiness.  Racial tensions are exploding.  People are being gunned down on our streets.  We are in a world at war and the church needs warriors who’ve mastered self by giving over self to God.  We need men who are living well, living with integrity, living strong, fighting for their wives instead of constantly demanding from them.  We need men of integrity who say “Enough.  No more” and repent of the worship of sex and when blessed with a time of intimacy with their wives they will stop and consecrate the time in prayer giving the intimacy over to God as a worship offering.  God created sex as a glorious gift to the married couple and we’ve perverted it.  Now, we take it back.  As we enter into it, stop and consecrate the event, consecrate the time, give God the glory and in so doing you take it as a gift and will trust in God for the next time He grants the gift.  By consecrating the time, you are giving the power of sex over to God, “Lord, we give this to you.  Thank you for this wonderful gift.  Thank you for my beautiful wife.  Help me love her well every day.  We give this act to you and we will enjoy it and then release it.  “It” has no power over us.  We repent of our worship of it or for how we’ve rejected it or denied it.  Let us enjoy this and then get about the business of serving you together as a couple.  Thank you Lord Jesus for this precious gift that is my wife.”

The point of this post was to drive us to straight path, the life well-lived, LivingUP to all our God has created us to be.  Wake up. Don’t waste your life…

What did this stir in you?  Did it make you mad?  Why?  How much time daily do you give to the thought of sex?  How important is it to you?  Can you ever get enough of it?  And then … how do all those questions relate to your relationship with God?  How important is He?  Can you ever get enough of Him?

lots of food for deep, deep thought…

great quote for you…

I just had the pleasure to speak with Bart Hanson at Ransomed Heart and he shared this quote from Chesterton to encourage all us …

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

We fight for those standing behind us – our children, our wives, our co-workers, those men in our church or around us that aren’t engaged.  Fight the good fight!  Warrior on!  Lead from the front.  Never, never, never, never, never give up.

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