the state of humanity…

IMPORTANT NOTE — More so than most weeks, the slides below are key.  Please click on the below link and go through them deliberately and carefully.  

Here are the slides from today >>   clear eyes 17 – wake up 2

These slides take a very hard look at the situation our world is in.  Again, like last week, I don’t want you fixated on “yeah, boy, this world is really bad”.  No, the takeaway needs to be, “what is my response going to be?”

This will not be pleasant and soothing to our ears.  It is not designed to be.  Today is a wake up call.

We can continue to blanket ourselves in comfort and the entertainment of this world.  We can continue to ignore the facts of what is happening to our world.  We can keep thinking “I’m safe”.  We can continue to live a “nice, Christian, South Georgia life” that looks pretty but we can have lives that are not transformed.  A storm is coming, and we need to be ready.

Things can get a lot worse on this planet in a real hurry.  A day of reckoning is coming.  Wake up.

And what should our response to this be?  Where do you start?  We need to repent. Sin and repentance are not culturally popular words.  Our culture worships at the alters of pleasure, consumption, gratification, great coffee, world-class meals, Netflix, etc. … it is “consume what you want, you be you, do what makes you happy” and “as long as it is not hurting anyone, do whatever makes you feel good”.  Except, as we know as believers, all these things do hurt someone.  They hurt us.  They hurt the man that worships them and consumes them.  Gluttony hurts you.  Pornography fries your brain, rewires it and forever changes your view of women and sex.  Our nation is drunk on sex and pornography and pleasure and it fuels the absolute horror of sex trafficking.

And yes, for many of us, that stuff is “out there” and “not me”.  Except, it is.  To a degree, all of reading this worship at the alter of our own little personal gods.  It may be money or appearance or status or looking successful … these things we chase that we think will make us feel complete.  We have turned our backs on God to seek our own personal gratification.

We need to repent.

Flip through those slides and realize, this stuff is everywhere in America.  It is impacting your home in many ways.  It may be a child that is in his/her mid-20’s and is a “None” and has no faith.  They may have a good job and drive a nice car but they are absent anything spiritual in their lives.  It may be a creeping pull you have to pornography.  You’ve battled it for years and it keeps tripping you up.  It may be an over-attention to self – that you must be noticed and respected.  It may be the size of your retirement account and the drive you have to get to where you have “enough” for a comfortable retirement.

We need to repent.

a storm is coming

I am what I watch…

Clear eyes – I am what I watch.  I am what I do.

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:2

It’s about the time we have – the limited time we have.  Believe it or not, you don’t have much time left in this life.  Time flies.  January is gone.   Your kids will be out of the house before you know it.  Time is precious and we cannot slow it down.

We’ve talked before about the iPhone, social media, 24-hour news and how much time they are consuming in us.  It goes deeper than this – it is this push for more, more, more and go, go, go that our culture feeds on.  I remind you that Dallas Willard said,

“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.”

John Mark Comer said this …

“We live in a culture that wants to breakdown all our limitations so we can cheat time itself.  That we can read every book, eat at every cool new place, take every amazing trip, watch every movie, watch all 8 seasons of every Netflix series, rise to the top of every field…    

YOLO

No.  That’s the defining narrative of “seize the day”, it’s the defining narrative of America – it is not the defining narrative of a follower of Jesus.  You are made in the image of God.  You are dust.  You’re a human being.  You have limitations, you’re not God.  You were never supposed to be and one of the limitations we all share is 24 hours in a day.  Nobody gets more time than that.  Therefore, you must live each day deliberately.”

We come home from work, take our son to ball practice, come back home to eat, help with homework, etc.  You’ve got – maybe – one hour.  Maybe.  I’m an empty nester and maybe I’ve got 3 hours.  Regardless, the question we must ask is how will we spend that time?  If every night is 1-2 hours of mindless TV or staring at my iPhone and I repeat that pattern every night — if the 6-10 hours a week I have for something … is being spent on … nothing — where am I going?  What’s the fruit of this going to be?

If I repeat this week after week, month after month, year after year, let me ask you, will I become more like Jesus or will I gradually morph into this world?  Honest question for all of us — am I more and more becoming like this world?  The Roman’s verse warns us of not being conformed to the world.

Facebook, texting, twitter, scrolling YouTube videos, ESPN app?  Pornography?  Mindless television?  What are you watching?  Seriously?

Are you going to conformed by this world – or – will you be transformed by Jesus?

 

Time.  How are you investing your time?

Jesus told His disciples (Mark 6:31) – “come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.”  That’s one path – investing my time with Jesus = silence and solitude, reading the Word, sabbath, listening to worship music, reading Eldredge or John Ortberg or Dallas Willard = feeding our soul … or … we can get on Twitter and argue with someone.  Scroll Instagram.  Watch a Netflix series.  Doing something, anything, to fill our time and numb our senses.  Which is crazy because we have so little free time available.

“Today, a number of historical circumstances are blindly flowing together accidentally conspiring to produce a climate within which it is difficult not just to think about God or pray but simply to have any interior depth whatsoever.  We are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion.  Pathological busyness, distraction and restlessness are major blocks to our spiritual life.”   Ronald Rolheiser

I remind you – it is totally on us to create the habitat where our souls can thrive.  The world is not going to help you with this – the world could care less about your soul … if it even believes we have souls.

If you’ve only got an hour or two at night, what will nourish your soul? 

How you spend your time – specifically your limited free time – goes a long way in determining what kind of man you will become.  I am what I do.  You are what you watch.  Don’t kid yourself men, you are what you choose to watch.

Let me say something about television.  I’m speaking to myself probably more than I’m speaking to you.  Watching shows is one of the most passive forms of thinking, which makes it one of the most powerful.  Because we’re not engaged in active thinking, we allow any number of morally suspect thoughts to enter our mind unhindered.  These thoughts immediately get comfortable in their new home – they start settling in and hanging drapes.

To say this is a cunning move by our adversary is an understatement.  Under the disguise of entertainment, evil thoughts often move into our minds and entrench themselves unopposed.  We invite them in.

John Piper talks about this.  He’s got my attention and I really want you pay attention to this.  The thing about the edgy TV, the raunchy humor, the sex scenes, the loose aggressive women who seem to love sex , the violence, the drugs … you know what I’m talking about.  This stuff is everywhere all the time and we are watching it and we are numb to it.

Why?  Why are we doing this?  The bottom line of “why?” is because I like it.  I enjoy it.  The sin itself isn’t the issue – it is that I’m enjoying the sin.  If you want to dig deeper, read this from Piper…   Scan0033

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?”

controlled burns (addiction 4)

here are the slides from today … Goliath 14 – addiction (2)

We’ve been repeating this same question, “Lord, where am I weak?”  Today, we tweaked it to, “Lord, show me where I am giving the enemy an opening”.

And that’s the thing, these addictions we dance with are openings.  They are an invitation, an open door that your enemy will exploit.  Not “might” … but “will”.  He is crafty, he is cunning, he studies you, knows your weaknesses and he will exploit the openings you give him.  Make no mistake about this.  You’re playing with fire.  Literally.

If you have a family history of alcoholism, you’re playing with fire drinking on a regular basis.  If you know you have an issue with lust/temptation/other women, you are foolish to play around with pornography.  And let me say this for all of us, whether lust is an issue or not, pornography must be a “no go” area for all of us.  A man that says, “I don’t struggle with lust so I can take a peak at porn” is being foolish.  Maybe you didn’t have an issue but when you opened that door to take a peak, you invited the destroyer into your soul.

addictions6

My actions, my steps, my decisions in these areas … they are giving Satan dominion over my life.  Rather than giving God dominion over all my life, I am, instead, giving these areas over to my enemy.  I’m inviting him in and just asking for trouble.  He will gladly oblige my foolishness.

We’ve all done it.  Adam & Eve did it.  They gave the enemy dominion.  But that isn’t final.  As we’ve learned this entire series on Goliath Must Fall, Christ defeated Goliath. The Cross marked the turning point in the story, it marked the death of Satan.  His end is assured yet even though he is on his way to ultimate destruction, he is “dead but still quite deadly”.  He knows the end game.  He knows what Jesus did that resurrection day and so he is raging against humanity to strike as many blows at his ultimate enemy, God.

Scripture warns, “Don’t give the enemy a foothold”.  You have a territory God has entrusted to you.  Don’t invite the enemy in.  Don’t give him a seat at your table.  He’s a destroyer.  These addictions are very serious things – we don’t mean to make light of any of this.  If you struggle with pornography or lust or alcohol, that is real and powerful and it will be a battle to beat it.  But, it can be defeated.  Satan doesn’t have dominion over everything.  Jesus does.  Death holds no sting.  You can claim victory over the power of these addictions in Jesus name.  You can take back your territory, your Promised Land.  You can show the enemy the door and lock it behind him.  In Jesus’ name.

We talked this morning about controlled burns and how critical they are to maintain the health of a forest.  If left unchecked, small weeds in a forest become 30 foot tall briers.  Sweet gum trees pop up and multiply like rabbits.  A dense undergrowth grows.  If left unchecked, a non-managed forest becomes a disaster just waiting to happen.  The undergrowth grows, dead trees fall, the pines start to struggle and the forest is one lightning strike away from a devastating forest fire.  So, you manage the forest via regular “controlled burns”.  You burn out the undergrowth.  Get it out before it becomes a real problem.  Deal with it.  It’s messy.  It’s dirty.  It isn’t pleasant but there is reward on the other side = you get a healthier forest and bigger pines.  Growth comes after the burn.  (COME NEXT WEEK – we’re going to talk about that exact point)

controlled burn

You see the charred ground left behind from the fire.  But that’s healthy.  It promotes healthy growth and it is fuel for the future growth of the pines.

And so, the analogy for us is this … we’ve all got areas in our lives that are small problems today.  They are private things.  Things I believe I have under control.  Little things that “everyone does”“Healthy desires that all red-blooded men have”.  These are things we justify.  Things we rationalize.  And at their base stage, they are relatively harmless – or so they appear.  These things that we cordon off from God and don’t give him access to, they are areas of the forest untended and that’s where a real problem with devastating implications lurk.

Bill Gaddy gave a beautiful testimony to this exact thing this morning.  He had a private area of his life that started small and grew into a situation that erupted into a forest fire with collateral damage way beyond himself.  He begged us to not repeat his mistake – that if you have an area you struggle with, confess it, bring it out into the light, share it with other men you can trust.  Admit you have a problem.  Face it.  Deal with it now before it grows into a disaster.

These giants in our lives, they can go down.  They must fall.  They taunt us and tell us, “you’re never going to beat this, you’ll never be anything more than this addiction.”  That isn’t the case.  Goliath can go down.  You can’t take him down alone.  Only Jesus can but you’ve got to take the first step to surrender your life, give up these “private” areas, and give Jesus dominion over all your life – over your sex life, over your desires, over what you eat and drink and what you watch in entertainment.

Jesus wants to know how much of your life you’re willing to give Him.  He gave it ALL for you.  How much will you give Him?

addictions5

“me” has to die (part 2)

The root of all sin is “me”.  It is self.  It is your flesh.  It is the “immediate”.  It explains why we have all this credit card debt.  “I want it, I get it, I figure out how to pay for it later”.  I justify.  I rationalize.  “I need this”.  “I deserve this”.  “Why can he have a 70 inch HDTV but I can’t?”  “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”

Go back and re-read that first paragraph and look at all the I’s.   Me, me, me, it’s all about me.  That’s a pathway to death.  Living for “me” is sin and it’ll take you places you never wanted to go and extract a cost from you that you never wanted to pay.

Me-first explains why we don’t tithe.  Tithing is a radical statement of faith that my money will not own me.  By giving it away (giving first), I am standing in defiance of “me first” and my flesh.  I’m radically surrendering Lordship of my money over to God.  It is surrender.

Surrender is the very opposite of sin/me/flesh.  Surrender is Lordship.  It is acknowledging I am not master of my life and in fact, if left unchecked, my flesh will consume my life and all those around me that I love.  Surrender is acknowledging that if left to my own devices, I’d consume like locusts.  Surrender is admitting you’re weak.  It’s a beautiful thing.   In my weakness, God is strong.  

Some guys can drink and escape the risks.  Others of us have no business drinking.  It’s too wide an open door.  There is too much risk.  Maybe alcoholism runs in your family and you’ve bought the lie that you’re immune to the risks.  No one is immune to risk.  We have an enemy who does not fight fair and is the master of all lies and if you don’t think you’ll ever get hooked, you’re buying a lie. Some guys don’t really struggle with pornography.  But others of us know it is a vast weak spot and if tempted, we will take the bait.  In truth, no man is immune to it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, you struggle with it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, there is a temptation to go back.  That’s what Satan does.  His hooks cut deep and have big barbs on them.  Getting them out of your flesh is hard.

Sexual temptation, pornography, sending Facebook friend requests to pretty neighbors, flirting, wondering/wandering is “me”.  Taking a few drinks every night to numb the pain and escape.  Toys. Overspending.  Overeating.  Carrying around rage, envy, hatred, comparison, jealousy.  These are all about me and my needs and finding stimulation elsewhere from God.

Satan will use any and all to take you down.  “Be on alert, your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.”  Flirt with that pretty sales rep who calls on you and think you’ve above it?  Don’t kid yourself.  He knows your weaknesses and he’s just looking for an open door.  “Please Bubba, please give me an open door, just take a second look, send her a text, send her a friend request, agree to go to lunch with her.  It won’t hurt anyone.”  He’s prowling around and you may be his lunch.

Go back and look at the post from October 5, 2016.  Watch the Louie Giglio talk again.  Remember that talk.  Don’t forget it.  God prepares a table for you in the midst of your enemies.  (don’t kid yourself, God himself is telling you that your enemies surround you)  The table is there.  There is all this chaos swirling around — it’s just you and God.  He wants you focused on Him.  His provision is there.  Just keep your eyes on Him.  Those temptations will come and it is when you turn in your chair from facing God and start engaging in those conversations in the chaos is when you get in trouble.  “Self” is going to want to turn to those temptations.  “Me” is going to get bored with God and turn to the shiny lures.

“Me” … has to die.  Battling sin is first acknowledging it and second, repenting it.  I must first own it without any rationalizing or justifying.  There is no justifying sin.  Then, I must turn from it.  Repent = turn from.  180 degree U-turn.  Flee from it.  Run.  Quit drinking.  Be willing to go get help if you need it.  Own it.  Close your Facebook account.  Put the filters on your laptop and give your wife full access to it and your phone.  Never, ever go to lunch or dinner with another woman.  Purge any and all avenues that are potentially open doors.

Will it be fun?  No.  Is it needed?  Absolutely.  If you want God to restore, you’re going to have to take some bold steps.  He will meet you there.  All this mess in your life?  God can turn a mess into a miracle.  You just have to be willing to kill “me”.  Listen to this song and especially John Piper’s words in the middle of it.  God’s slaying of “me” is serving a purpose.  He’s not asking anything of you that His Son hasn’t overcome.  God is calling us to slay self so He can work His Divine purpose in and through our lives.  Remember in your weakness, He is strong…

“me” has to die (part 1)

here are the slides from today … manschool-wholeness-3-dealing-with-my-own-sin

The most fundamental problem in brokenness is our own sinful choices.  We can’t control what others might do in our lives but we’re absolutely responsible for our own choices.

What is sin?

  • 10 Commandments
  • Galatians 5:19-21 – acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, etc.
  • Jesus’ answer to the greatest commandment (Matt 22:34-40) = Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second is, love your neighbor as yourself.  In other words, sin is not loving.
  • Genesis 3 – reminds us of the basic truths of the nature of sin.  God gives them the entire garden except one tree and it is there that Satan launched his attack.   Satan’s strategy is to…
  • A) distort the truth and create confusion saying things that sound like truth but aren’t exactly truth.  He tries to cast doubt on the goodness of God, “Why would God not give you everything?  See, He is holding out on you.”
  • B) He draws upon our desire for independence and lead us to reject God’s authority and claim that authority as ours.

Why that one tree?  The knowledge of good and evil.  God wanted us to always depend on Him to show us what is good and what is not.  To depend on Him to lead us to that which will bring us life and keep us away from that which will bring death.  Satan comes along and says, “Why do you want to stay in a place where you have to depend on God?  You can become your own god.”

And therein lies the root of all sin – “you can become your own god”. 

Truth is under attack today.  He’s taking it a step further.  He’s not just twisting truth but leading us to a place of rejecting truth altogether in favor of relativism.  “There is no objective truth”.  Satan hates authority altogether but the truth is, we were made to live under authority.

Whether it is the 10 commandments, Jesus’ commandment to love God with all your soul, the Galatians 5 – lust, idolatry, greed, jealousy or the battle in the Garden of Eden … the essence of all sin is this ===> I want to live under my authority, not God’s.”

Scripture teaches us that when we begin to walk down that path of deception and rejection of God’s authority, the result ultimately will be consequences of destruction…

“Don’t be deceived: God will not be mocked.  For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”  Galatians 6:7-8

You know this instinctively.  You try to teach this to your kids.  You know, as the Proverbs teach, that if you walk with the wise, you’ll become wise.  If you walk with fools, you’ll suffer much harm.   Hang out with turds, you’re going to turdville.  You pound that into your kid’s minds and beg them to listen.  But what about you and your choices?

The consequences of sin?

  1. It is immediate.  Guilt, shame, physical, social, legal issues, financial consequences, relational pain.  You can’t take it back or undo it.  A hidden affair.  A hidden pornography addiction.  Once the sin is exposed, the consequences are immediate.
  2. Long-term. Romans 6-8.  Sin is not so much a single act but rather the power of the trap of it … that we can become a slave to it (think of pornography).   Romans 6:15-16 in the Message “You know that there are some acts of freedom that destroy freedom.  Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act.”

One of the things that gives Satan a right to wreak havoc in our lives is when we sin.  Sin is not just committing an act, it is opening a door.  This is an enemy that will come in through an open door.  His aim is to gain a stronghold to keep you under the power of sin.  But remember, if you don’t open it, he can’t come in.  If you do open it …

Sin will always take you further than ever meant to go.

Sin will keep you longer than you ever meant to stay.

Sin will cost you more than you ever meant to pay.

God’s Provisions for dealing with sin.  This is the path to winning this war …

  1. Confession. Agree with God that a particular thing is sin.  Stop rationalizing or justifying.  I’m agreeing with God that this is wrong.    Accept the truth of God’s word.  Psalm 32:1-5.  James 5:13-16 “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”
  2. Repent.  To confess is to merely agree with.  To repent is to turn 180 degrees and go the other way.  Confession without action is just words.  Repentance is turning away from sin and turning towards God.
  3. Power.  Power of the Holy Spirit to break the stronghold of sin.  Romans 8:1-2 “The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

God does not want you to stay in brokenness.  He wants you to embrace His Truth, reject the rationalizations/justifications and chose to live under the authority of Jesus Christ.  1 Cor 6:18-20 – “You are not your own, you were bought at a price.”   Satan is desperate to keep you from the truth that God is utterly good.  He loves to give.  His anger comes from his passionate love.  If He didn’t care, He wouldn’t be angry.  What God prohibits, it is because He wants to protect you.  He knows what He commands will bring you life.  Wholeness starts with turning to Father.

Please see the next post for the impact point…

Relief or Restoration – which one will you go to?

First, here is the song we sang with those amazing scenes…

It is so easy to forget this is a world at war.  There is a massive collision of kingdoms underway.  If we struggle keeping our passion for God or can’t seem to love people well, it is the effect of this sustained attrition against us.  Because of this war, your soul takes a lot of damage.

The soul is a crucial part of your being.  It has enormous capacity for love, passion, beauty, wonder, curiosity, etc.  In war, actual damage can be done to your soul.  Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword.”  Psalm 31:17 “You have known the troubles of my soul.”  Psalm 6:3 “My soul is in deep anguish.”  It is a war of attrition – the enemy is wearing you down, wearing you down.   Your inner reserves wither away.

The glorious news is that God restores the soul.  Psalm 23.  Without the restoration, the attrition of the war will wither you soul away so it becomes so insubstantial it cannot handle the picture of Heaven – that is the glorious, the substantial, the growing.  Mark 8:37 asks, “Is anything worth more than your soul?”  Is it?  If your answer is “no”, then you’d better take the restoration of your soul more seriously.

Restoration and relief are not the same thing.  Most of us go to relief.  We’re beat up, spent, withering away and we go to relief.  A few beers, ice cream, cruising the internet, a few hours of TV – anything to comfort us.  Relief does not bring about restoration for the soul.  It doesn’t heal it, restore it or make it stronger for the next time.  We go to comfort and it just doesn’t work.  It’s so momentary.  Or… we just check out and go numb (a form of relief).

While this is going on, again and again and again, we’re getting worn down and vulnerable.  The more you turn to relief, the more vulnerable you get.  And the more dangerous stuff starts to look like relief – heroin, your secretary, pornography – and a guy just gets taken out.  Wearing you down, wearing you down and you’re handling that by checking out, vegging, eating, drinking, masturbating.   Worn down = vulnerable.

How God restores.  Psalm 23 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures and rest beside peaceful streams”.  It is a process.  He “makes” me.  Stillness and beauty are two of the many things God uses to restore your soul.

Think of the volume of information and noise that you process daily vs. what your Grandfather had to process.  You’re going to have to be forced into stillness to achieve it.  Your soul literally needs to do nothing on a regular basis.  When you get some stillness and peace, soak it in.  Guard against the oncoming “I need to do ___” list rushing into your mind.  Stop.  Focus on “do nothing”.  Rest in stillness and the sunshine, the breeze, the blue sky.  It is Sabbath.

Beauty – green pastures, still waters – there is nothing like beauty to restore the soul. Where do you drink in Beauty?  The human soul has enormous thirst for beauty.  The reason a lot of men get taken out by sex is because they are not regularly taking in beauty.

Two Questions…

How often do you practice stillness?

Where do you drink in beauty?

Ask for it.  Ask God to restore your soul.  Put yourself in an available position and ask.  Repeat it.  Ask again.  “Lord, restore my soul”.  Consume scripture – not “Bible study” – no, just read the Psalms, read Ephesians, just let the Scripture wash over your soul.

Abstain from some things.  What you withdraw your soul from is important.  1 Peter 2:11 “Friends … abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”  Whatever it is that you use for comfort, before you go to it, pause, ask “Jesus, comfort me.  I need comfort”.  Turn your attention towards Christ and invite Him to bring you comfort.

When you’re very aware that your soul has been assaulted or when you find yourself looking for relief … realize your soul is hurting and you’re turning to false gods for comfort.  So much of the addictions of men is not about money, sex, alcohol, etc., it is about relief. Remember, relief does not restore.  God restores.

The man to man, in your face question is — What are you going to do each day, each week to allow God to restore your soul?  Because here’s the thing, the “it” is out there.  “It” will wear you down.  Not “might” wear you down, no, it “will” wear you down.  It’s coming against your soul.  You will wither under its constant oppression.  So the attack is coming and you’ve got a choice to make – are you going to go to relief or radically pursue restoration?  As they say in this next clip, If you never get away to think about your life and sort things out, life will swallow you up.  You need someplace you can go” … 

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

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…