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Hello again friend, wanted to share a few more thoughts with you since the post a few weeks ago. Jesus REALLY is your real and present Savior and Deliverer for any area of sin struggle, including your addiction to porn. But HOW does He deliver us? Should you say a prayer and then make a New Years Resolution in the next days as 2009 rolls in? Should you resolve to just NOT LOOK anymore…no more clicks that will lead to those sites?

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This post was originally placed on the website of Covenant Eyes, www.covenanteyes.org, an amazing internet accountability ministry.

Welcome friend, hope it’s ok to call you friend? It’s fairly personal and we probably don’t know each other but I do want you to know my heart is tender towards you. And while I’m not entangled with pornography, I’m much more like you than different.

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In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) Lucy sees Aslan the great lion for the first time. She was afraid, and rightly so. Lucy whispered to Mrs. Beaver ‘Is he safe?’ ‘Safe?’ Mrs. Beaver replied, ‘Of course he’s not safe! But he is good, he’s the King I tell you!’


The great lion Aslan was meant by Lewis to be a picture of Jesus, not an exact imitation, but a “type”. And so this line from this well-loved book has been quoted extensively. I’ve most heard it quoted to counter the non-biblical view that following Jesus is a path of ease or boredom, or the quote is meant  to show the ‘wild’ side of God, that He IS God and is the supreme ruler, that we can’t contain Him in our boxes of comfort. But does that mean that we shan’t (Lewisian influence here) call Him ‘safe’?

I do agree that devotion to Jesus is one of joy and radical surrender; and I DO agree that God is GOD, that He rules and reigns as loving creator LORD. However, I wouldn’t have said it the way Lewis said it. God IS safe and He is good. In Him, our fears, insecurities, anxieties get swallowed up by the safety of His loving refuge…His very presence. No, He’s not boring, and no, He’s not a genie in the bottle we pull out for our means. This is the radicalness of who He is: He IS the KING and He is powerful…yet very safe!

Keep me safe O God, for in You I take refuge. I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord’ apart from You I have NO good thing! Psalm 16:1,2

Loving people well, and living holy lives with our sexuality requires a good, powerful and safe God. We have one friends, we have One!

Fear is the enemy of love.  Fear is the enemy of trust, honesty, sharing of oneself, and thus the enemy of intimacy.

Harry Schaumberg, in his book False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction, defines this concept of false intimacy as essentially a selfish strategy and self-created illusion for a person to avoid the relational pain inherent in real intimacy by pursuing sexual experiences — whether through fantasy, solo sex, or acting out with another person.  False intimacy reveals a deep commitment to control or manage actual or potential emotional disappointment, pain and seeks emotional comfort, security, peace, and autonomy over the best interests of another person.

Given this notion from Schaumberg, how does this relate to fears and unbelief in your past or present struggles?  Fear is the enemy of love, but love is the enemy of fear.  Love and truth fight fear and unbelief.  (Does this kinda sound like Yoda of Star Wars or a Haikou poem?  Anyway…)  If love is a verb and living in truth means confession and vulnerability (self-disclosure), then how are you are doing in loving God and others and in doing truthful self-discovery and honest self-disclosure to others?  “Heart work” is the hardest work of all. 

Since God accepted you and me when we were still enemies (Romans 5:8,10), What have you been so afraid of?  What has distorted your vision of God’s goodness and trustworthiness?  How are you seeking honest relationships now?

Is this helping you in the temptation to: sexual false intimacy; or the not-blatantly sinful, garden-variety false intimacy such as being polite but not open-hearted, doing “nice” but being aloof, not getting to close, hiding in work or busyness, focusing on stuff, leisure and entertainment but not relationships, or banal conversations about the news, sports, the weather, shopping, but never sharing or listing to heart concerns.  

False intimacy – and the fear that drives it – is epidemic in our culture and not just because of porn which is an extreme variety of avoiding real intimacy and controlling emotions by using real people.  Someone has said that the three rules of a dysfunctional family are: 1. Don’t Talk, 2. Don’t Feel, and 3. Don’t Trust.  Yet, we are called to be true brothers, the real family of God, a community of true honesty, acceptance, mutual support.  Jesus said, “by this all men will know you are My disciples, in that you LOVE one another” (John 13:35).  Jesus is against the fear of false intimacy.  “Perfect love cast out fear” (1 John 4:18).  And, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).  The true meaning of Christmas is to set us free from the fears that enslave our hearts.

A close and dear friend leaves town on Saturday and I’m already missing her, feeling the ache of her absence.  You know, goodbyes are a part of this fallen world, and will be destroyed when Christ restores creation to the beauty of God’ sinless design. And yet, while we live on the soil of this earth, He calls us to love well and let go when paths go in different directions. And for me, goodbyes are HARD because emotional pain is hard… scary even at times.

So… what do we do with the pain of goodbyes and/or change? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his amazing book Life Together teaches how as believers we are not to relate “directly” to one another but always through Christ. The person of Jesus is the One in whom we live and and move and have our being and He is to always be “inbetween” ourselves and others. The beauty of this is that we can trust Him to draw our hearts close, and to bring distance; to allow us to journey together, or perhaps to know one another from a distance. When Christ is central, He grants closeness and He grants distance.

To love deeply and sincerely does open our hearts to the pain of loss and change… but it’s worth it! We participate in the sufferings of Christ, who Himself experienced loss and change in His relationships. People MATTERED to Jesus and He  invested His  heart, life and affections in relational ways.  I’m not nearly as courageous as Him… but I’m learning step by step to love… and to let go.

Dan wrote last week about being “ruthless”…taking seriously the call to delight in Jesus at the cost of delighting in sin. It is a ‘cost’ to not give way to our selfishness so as to fully delight in the provision we have through Christ.

As I shared a few thoughts last week, often our relationships and the people with whom we have them (peopling!) can often become the focus of our treasuring, of our cravings for life and satisfaction. When this happens, if often comes at the cost of our worship and devotion to Christ. I’ve found that in my own ‘ruthless’ battle (which I’m sometimes weak in for sure) to keep Christ first, that I must find hope and guidance not only in the sweet promises of Scripture, but also in the sober warnings. Take for example Psalm 16:1-4, a key passage for my heart.

“Keep me safe O God, for in You I take refuge. I said to the Lord,  “You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing. As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods; I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names upon my lips.”

In the pursuit of treasuring Christ above all, and in letting go of those struggles that seem to rule us, consider the promises and warnings given to us as a gift in these few verses:

·     God is one in whom we find safety and refuge.

·     Apart from Him we have no good thing…with Him and in Him, we have ALL good things.

·     Fellow journeyers are to be delighted in…deeply delighted in!

·     Sorrows DO increase (multiply) when we run away from the True God, to other gods.

I’ve experienced the joys of delight in people that flow from the safe refuge of Jesus and I’ve also experienced multiplying sorrows when I’ve run after “other gods”. What about you?

Ever seen one of those Twilight Zone re-runs where at first the protagonist is living in what he thinks is his business-as-usual life?  But then he come to realize he is living a sham and that his life is not his own but rather he’s a pawn in some powerful beings game or experiment. This type of twist in the plot is what drives the Neo character in The Matrix. Neo is shocked and horrified to find his freedom and normal life is anything but normal and he’s in fact a slave.

In the Rod Sterling Twilight Zone I am thinking of, when the man discovers he’s living is what amounts of a doll’s house, and that he is the audience to be seen by outsiders, the man frantically grabs the items in what he thought was his house to find in a sickening horror they are mere props.  He pulls kitchen drawer handle, but the drawer does not open. The drawer handle pulls off in his hand, then he gazes up into the stage lights above him, helpless.  There Sterling leaves him and the TV audience, ever wondering what that man can do about his plight.  That’s good spooky ending for a 30 minute show but would not make much of a movie.

On the other hand, Neo’s reaction to his shocking discovery that his life was slavery and deception not reality and freedom is not a helpless reaction but ruthless.  As he progressively get’s into the reality beneath this façade he’d been a pawn in, Neo seeks the truth with relentlessness abandonment.  His knowing the truth meant he had to make a choice to make – to fight or to slip back into forgetfulness of reality into the pawn and slavery ‘virtual reality game’ of his old life.  What made the Matrix a movie to watch and remember is that Neo became more and more ruthless. 

I think what drove Neo’s ruthlessness as a fighter was not just anger, revenge, but loyalty to truth and to the real people with whom and for whom he fought.  I think manly love looks like loyalty.  And loyalty is what sparks and fires a holy ruthlessness.

So … 

1.  What is ‘winning’ for the enemy?

2.  What are the key realities beneath sexual fantasies, porn, masturbation, or acting out with another person?

3.  Are you as ruthless with your enemies as they are with you?

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act {fight} like men, be strong! Let all that you do be done in love {manly loyalty}!  1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)

 

 

 

This weekend close to 2000 folks are gathering in Philly for the annual conference sponsored by the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. (www.ccef.org) The theme this year is “The Addict in Us All”.  There will be lots seminars addressing the many facets of addiction. Substances, behaviors, thoughts…relationships.

How do YOU define addiction? A life controlling ‘thing’? Something that has seized you? One way the bible addresses addiction is in Hebrews 12:1,2 where followers of Jesus are called to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles.”  Habitual sin…activities, behaviors, thoughts, relationships, emotions that entangle us, encumber us consistently from a Christ-centered life.

I’ve never been addicted to alcohol, drugs, porn or even sex…but I HAVE been what we might call a “people addict”.  Or like I said in my first post, an emotional connection junkie. Ed Welch, of CCEF, says that people are our favorite idol…or addiction. We worship people and our relationships when we let them make or break our day, when they rise to the highest place in our thoughts, affections, energies.

Are you a people or relationship addict?  How do people “rule” you and what has been helpful to you in your relational and spiritual journey to be free of the entanglement of this? What has helped you learn how to love and not “use” people? Share your thoughts and I’ll be back next week to share mine! 🙂

Mr. JONES and Mr. SMITH were hanging out.

JONES says: “Listen to this quote, ‘my heart is restless until it rests in you.'” 

SMITH laughs and retorts: “Must have been written by a girl.” 

JONES, quiet for a while, says: “Well, sometimes I am restless. In fact, last night, I spent 3 hours looking at porn.” 

SMITH : “Was it good stuff?!” “I find that the free porn is ok, but you have to put out the bucks for something satisfying.”  “Three hours, eh.  Must have been some HOT stuff.”

JONES : “Naw . . . it was basically . . . re-runs.”

SMITH : “So now you are taking up reading Bible-ly looking books?”

JONES : Holding the leather bound book, says, “It’s St. Augustine’s Confessions.” Then after a pause: “From the 5th Century AD.”

SMITH : “What the..  Huh?  Who the…  what are you talking about?”

Feeling dejected and a bit scorned by SMITH, JONES leaves to take a walk with uncomfortable questions poking his conscience.

 “What do I really want?”

“Can a be satisfied with a woman made of pixels?  A pixelated woman?”

“Wonder why she did that photo shoot?”

“What does she really want?”

“I wonder if she is as desperate as I am?”

 JONES stops at a park bench.  He takes up the book, finding his book mark, and reads the whole quote.

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

________________

  • Are you like JONES?  Where does your restless heart wander?
  • And are you satisfied where your wandering heart takes you?
  • What, Who can satisfy your restless heart?

 Tolle Lege  — “Take up and read”

Relationships? Emotional connections with others? Do we “make” all of these experiences for ourselves? Do WE set the agenda and do what we want? Many will shout out a loud and exuberant YES! But the God of the Bible says something else.

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