“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…

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…

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…

Chapel

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.

Eve (pt 2) going after her heart

Restoration is possible.  Jesus wants to breathe into us and give us a genuine strength we can offer to our Eve.  But we have to deal with our own woundedness because a wounded, hurting, un-validated man is ripe to be taken out.  We must battle this in real time – every time you see an image on TV or a woman across the restaurant, bring Jesus in … “She is not life.  I bring the cross of Christ against my enemy.  Only in you Lord Jesus will I find true life.”  When a memory surfaces, out of nowhere, of an old girlfriend or an impure moment, bring Jesus into it.

Now… we can talk about pursuing Eve…

We need to understand her heart, her core desires and how she is wounded.  First … she is wounded.  Every woman you know is a deep well.  The grass is not greener on the other side.  Satan hates Eve.  He was once beauty and no longer is.  She is.  His is a kingdom of death and she births life.

Know her story and how her father handled her heart.  Every little girl is yearning for someone to choose her.  “Am I beautiful?”   “Am I worth fighting for?”

Women have their own version of pornography … romance.  The TV shows, the Hallmark movies, the novels, etc. they always have the hero coming to fight for her heart.  He sees what no one else sees and she deeply desires to be seen as captivating.  Every girl wants this and every girl is wounded here.

The #1 predictor of sexual promiscuity in teenage girls is the presence of a father.  If she doesn’t get it answered by Dad, she will take the question to boys.  She’ll have sex hoping that some boy will truly love her.

Eve’s # 1 fear?  To be abandoned.  You notice this in relationship failures she has – be it her Mom or her Dad or a dear friend or a broken relationship with her child … she just comes completely unraveled.

You are meant to fight for Eve.  Not to get strength from her but to offer strength to herThis is perhaps our most misunderstood dynamic.  We men are coming at Eve all wrong.

You and I have all kinds of wounds and issues and insecurities from our past when we meet our wives.  We finally find a woman that will put up with our stupidity (!) and actually likes us and we fight to win her.  And when we win her … we hand her all our hurts and hang-ups that have been there a decade or longer and have zero to do with her and expect her to then validate and heal us.

We don’t exist as men to offer weakness to our Eve and have her fix it.  We exist as men to put her ahead of ourselves.  “To love her as Christ loved the church”.  We need to fight for her, pursue her heart, step in on her behalf – and when she realizes, “Oh, there actually is someone really willing to fight for me?”   Wow, it’s powerful.

Where was she wounded?  If it was neglect, be sure not to neglect her!  If she was never told that she mattered, you need to be sure to tell her she matters.  Your words, your actions – they can be very healing.  Of course she gets her healing from Jesus but as your wife, you play a key role.  You’re made as a warrior and the very first battle Adam was given to fight was for Eve.

You will encounter spiritual warfare all over this.  The feelings of “Geez this will never get better.  I don’t want to fight for her, I want to run.  I don’t want to have deep conversations that make me uncomfortable about our marriage”.  It’s resignation.  Fight this.  Yes…you do want to do this!  You’re a man.  Go in.  Fight.

Pray for her.  You have authority because you are praying in Jesus’ name.  The enemies you face that are assaulting her are vastly cunning.  They are ancient and skilled in the practice of deceit and warfare.  But … they will respond to your commands on behalf of your wife because you are praying in the name of Jesus.  They will respond to the absolute authority of Christ.  In fact, the entire spiritual realm is built on authority.  Just as Christ is the head of the Church, you are the head of your wife.  You have authority to fight for her.  Your prayers over her and on her behalf will have a real impact.

We are to be tender towards her brokenness and fierce towards her enemy.  Isaiah 61 after we are set free and restored, the Word says that we will become “oaks of righteousness”.

(Les Mis film clip 32.46 – 38:38)  You see him being both fierce and tender.  Holiness.  He stands down her accuser … “You are dismissed.  Enough!  Leave!”  Try that in your prayers against the enemy over your wife!  Dismiss him.  Tell him “enough!”  Tell him to leave in Jesus’ name that he cannot have your wife and heap destruction upon her anymore!

Stacy was under assault of being “overwhelmed”.  There was a deep woundedness.  He worked to unpack that with her, inviting Jesus in, helping to restore her heart, breaking agreements, fighting for her, bringing Christ in to fight against her enemy.  It works.

Beauty – I’ve yet to meet a woman who thinks she is truly beautiful.  Even super models struggle with this.  We can speak into this “you are so beautiful”.  Will she ever believe it?  That’s not the question.  Do you believe it?  If you believe it then you have something to bring to her.

You cannot do any of this effectively if you’re taking your question to her.  Check your motives in all this.  She cannot be the report card on the effectiveness of your impact on the world as a man.  The danger is you go in for a few rounds and fight for her and it just doesn’t change course and you withdraw and check out.  To go in and give it a try and then quit in your pursuit of her … that only helps to confirm to her that she isn’t worth pursuing.

Quitting.  Giving up.  Divorce.  Adultery … is saying, “I know you deeply and I know you are not worth pursuing.”  This strikes a deep, devastating blow at Eve.  It is why God hates divorce.  That is the essence of divorce – it is saying “you are not worth pursuing and you no longer capable of meeting my needs”.  It’s a deadly blow to a woman who already believes this about herself in the first place.

This is crucial and the key —> we don’t do any this for what we can get in return“I’m doing all this and you’re not responding.  Hey reward me for my valor.  Give me something.  Throw me a bone”.  The original motive is way off base.  That man is focused on what he gets out of it.

There is no guarantee this will work.  But it is the call, the charge God gives us a men.  And God understands.  Yes she can be frustrating.  Yes, the well seems impossibly deep at times and no, she may never change.  But the Father sits there and receives you in your fatigue with deep love and appreciation for the role you play in her life saying, “I know son, I know.  I understand.  I’ve given her to you for a reason.  Go back.  Never give up.”

This can’t be the way I choose to live  —> because she is going to validate me.”

It has to simply be the way I choose to live  —> “because this is the kind of man I want to be.

John – when Stacy isn’t doing good immediately accusation comes upon me.  I resent that she isn’t doing well.  I’ve got to take that to God, “Oh Father, rescue me again.  Help me love.  I want to love.  I want to choose a life of love.”

This can’t be about my self-preservation or just “climbing the palm tree”.  It’s got to be about love, having a heart of integrity, to be that kind of man.  So when she’s having a bad day, I can be OK.  “It’s not about me” – frees me up to love her, to pursue her.  She’s not the report card on me as to how I’m doing as a man.

more to come next week… 

 

Eve

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”   Jeremiah 6:16 

The work of Christ can free the human soul from bondage; it really does bring restoration – if you are willing to embrace the process.  The promise of “abundant life” actually has a condition to it, and the condition is becoming a student of Jesus and embracing the ways of his kingdom. Those who make the choice to walk “the ancient paths,” are the ones who find “rest for their souls”.

“Adam and Eve were naked and without shame” – we can get that back, rescue the world and get back all that was lost.  God seeks to restore all that was lost”.

Eve is the incarnation of God’s mercy, tenderness and unconditional love.  We men tend to take our question to Eve – looking to her for our validation and primary love which are questions we should be taking to God.  “Make me feel like a man”

Adam’s fall – He was right there.  Passive.  Adam was not deceived by the serpent, Eve was.  First, it was his passivity – he does not act – but then there is this moment where Eve has fallen and he hasn’t.  Adam has a choice…do I go with God or the woman.  He chose Eve.  How easy is it for you to go toward passivity? 

Men worship at this alter of woman.  Men have destroyed families, households, churches, ministries, businesses … kingdoms have fallen over this.  (Tiger Woods, Marc Sanford governor of SC, John Edwards, General Patraeus)  — It goes way past sex.  We go to Eve for the validation, love, affirmation we crave.  To a fallen man, who isn’t experiencing the Living God, Eve looks like a fountain of life.  She is beautiful, she is mercy, she is love, she is intoxicatingly beautiful.  And yet, a man with a genuine strength … can walk away.  He doesn’t have to go there for his validation.

All these issues that come up with affairs, pornography, masturbation, addiction, sexual fantasies, etc. go way beyond the orgasm – we are taking our core questions to Eve.  1) Am I loved?   Does anyone delight in me?  2) Who am I as a man?   There is nothing like a woman arousing you sexually to make you feel like a man.  And if you don’t feel like a man anywhere else in life – Eve is going to be tough to resist.  To have a woman offer herself to you, the bigger the poser, the more unhealed your heart … the more you’re going to be a disaster here.

You know if you’re taking your core questions to a woman instead of God if you find her irresistible.  If just looking at a woman’s body is irresistible, you’re taking your question to her.  A real man can say, “Wow, she is beautiful … but … I don’t need that”.

You know if you’re taking your core question to her if you’re afraid of her.  Most married men are afraid of their woman.  She’s got the goods on you.  You can fake it publicly but she knows you.  When she asks, “Could we sit down tonight and talk about our relationship?” … you want to run!  Or when you walk in the door and you see that she’s just furious with you … you don’t feel strong, brave or loving.

The deadly thing is if you give a woman the power to validate you as a man – “Make me feel like a man” … then you are also giving her the power to invalidate you.  You’ve given her the power to absolutely castrate you.

The fallenness of Adam – the two things that effect all men 1) the passivity and 2) the worship of woman.  The desperate need for affirmation, love and validation and we take all that to her.  No wonder relationships get messy.  We have to take it back.  There is one more dynamic at work here – There is the passivity and the worship of Eve and then there is 3) the dynamic of our wounded heart that we get from multiple places in our childhood, teen years, young adult ages, etc. and we take our already wounded heart here – the sexual issues, looking to medicate, etc. and we try to find comfort.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  The enemy is all over this.  It’s the number one thing that takes men down.

Yes, Eve is love.  She is beauty and tenderness however, she is not life.  She looks like it until you get into it and you realize Eve is a bottomless wellGet that … a bottomless well.  She’s got all kinds of issues, past wounds, emotions, etc.  When is the pull to sexual relief the strongest in you?  When are you most tempted to cruise the internet looking for a little relief?  Isn’t it when you are lonely?  When you’re hurting?  When you’ve had a horrible day at work?  There is this empty ache in us and we go looking for relief.  Realize this – that empty ache in you is that you are looking for God.  You are looking for God!

When we turn to her with all this – the compulsions, fantasies, masturbation, addiction, porn, affairs, adultery – it is the wounded heart that desperately needs mercy and love and kindness.  And she just smiles at you and sweetly says, “thank you, you’re amazing” and BOOM … you feel like a man.  It traps us.  We addict to it.  Compulsion sets in.  We can’t resist.  And then the enemy just pounds you with guilt and shame and self-loathing.            (This is the cycle of porn)

We have to begin to turn this by taking it back and not going to her to fix our wounded heart

“I don’t want to give my soul away.  I want genuine strength to be able to fight the battles I know are coming my way and if I compromise my strength, I know I will be taken out.”  Every time we turn to her in weakness – for just a little something to make me feel better – we surrender a little bit of our own strength.  Something in us is further weakened for the next time.  Every time we look away and say, “No.  No.  I’m not going to give my soul away” something in us is strengthened and we are stronger for the next time.

The only antidote for the poser and the imposter is the real thing.  The more you lay down the poser and experience the real strength and the love of Jesus, the more you will want it.  And that man… God will entrust him with a kingdom.  God wants to give you a kingdom but not until you’re ready for it.  If you’re not ready for it, that power will destroy you.

Loving a woman really well actually starts here … by NOT taking your question to her.  She is not a problem to be solved or fixed.  She is a woman to be loved and enjoyed.  A real man fights for her, pursues her, brings his strength to her and it starts by taking your integrity back.  Go to God for your validation, your need as a son and for the healing of your woundedness.  This will produce a man of real strength.