Wednesday, August 30, 2006

If Job can do it; I can too!

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" - Jesus

How much does it cost to be obedient to the call to not have a hint of sexual impurity, greed, or idolatry?

What is exactly is a 'hint'?

90% of our struggles with sexual purity we can overcome with perseverance and will power. These could be pornographic magazines, movies, websites, etc... But what about the last 10%. For me the last 10% is just flat out looking. How do we overcome our own male trait of getting sexual satisfaction through visual gratification or stimulation?

The answer is easy. We got into this problem of sexual impurity by being male, we will get out of it by being a man. Take David's charge to his son Solomon in the opening chapters of I Kings 2

"I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go

I particularly want to focus on one section here : observe what the LORD your God requires.

God requires that we make absolutely sure that we don't have even a "hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." There is a price, a cost for us to take this kind of stand. Hear me very clearly on this: It will not be easy and it will not be natural, at first, to force our minds and eyes to look away from lustful or potentially lustful things. The problem with visually stimulating images is that once we have seen them, even if for a split second, they are imprinted on our memories. Unfortunately it happens in an instance, it is not like studying scripture or a book where we have to concentrate to commit it to memory. In just one split second it is in our memories for our minds to pull up at its own discretion.

Why is it not natural? Let's look at what Paul has to say about this in Romans.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Simply we cannot trust our bodies to obey God's command. Sexual purity is a battle that men can never win on their own. It is a temptation that is so strong and such a natural thing that we can't control it on our own. We have got to have God's help, that is the only way we will be able to win this battle for our minds and our souls.

We say, "Well, Jesus was God incarnate. There is no way I can be a person of whom can be said, "My hands never touched a woman in an inappropriate way and my eyes never lustfully looked at at woman" But what about Job.

"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong?"

You say, 'okay I think I can do this', but before we jump into this, let's look at the stipulations he put on violating this covenant.

"If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door, then may my wife grind another man's grain, and may other men sleep with her."

Can we make this same commitment? Does the cost outweigh the benefit?

As far as the cost goes lets look at the example of Zedekiah in Jeremiah 38. The angel of the Lord has given Jeremiah this message that he takes to Zedekiah. He tell Zedekiah that "This is what the LORD says: 'Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. He will escape with his life; he will live.' What? Give my self over to the enemy. You - are - crazy!!! Then Jeremiah tells him the consequences if he does not follow God. "if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from their hands.'

Well we know the rest of the story. Zedekiah did not do this and Jerusalem was burned to the ground. His sons were killed before him, his eyes were gouged out, and he was led back to Babylon is chains. The price for him not obeying God was the destruction of Jerusalem and the lives of his family.

So I ask again, what is the price for refusing to obey God's command. Your salvation, your kids, grandkids, great grandkids, great-great grandkids. The decisions that we make can effect 4 generations of our descendents.

What 'hints' are you allowing to remain in your life because we just can't " be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go "

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another Question?

No arguement but just another question. I am not saying that we shouldn't dress up and give our best but why. Does God really care if we are wearing our best clothes to church but sit there living in an endless of cycle of sin. Sure we admit the big sins but how many little 'pet' sins do we hold onto because we don't want to turn it all over to God but because I am wearing my suit I am "in this setting....should give our best". Kind of like Luke 11:38-40. If we have the means to dress nice then we should do so but I still wonder if we are alienating some people. Just and example, no theological arguements here, but look at the evangelical churches - 3,4, 5000 plus members wearing casual clothes. Do they make people feel more accepted because of their dress?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tag your it!

So here is my list of books that have had some kind of influence on my life.

1. One book that changed your life: Every Man's Battle: This book really opens your eyes and mind to what exactly sexual purity entails and how to live your life in such a way that you can be 1000% committed to God and your wife. Yes I know I put 1000% and not 100%.
2. One book that you've read more than once: Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen. Probably one of my all time favorites. Just a good story about a boy who is stranded in the wilderness and fights for survival. One of these books where you get so involved in it you start to play a movie in your mind as you read it.
3. One book you'd want on a desert island: CPA exam books, finally on a desert island I would be able to concentrate on studying them.
4. One book that made you laugh: When an Elephant walks. It is one of Lawson's favorite books and I crack up every time I read it because he does all the sound effects that we do.
5. One book that made you cry: Tuesdays with Morrie. Just a good book.
6. One book you wish had been written: Everything you need to know about how a woman's mind works. Hey the question asked "wish had been written."
7. One book you wish had never been written: CPA exam books.
8. One book you're currently reading: Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer about the Mt. Evrest disaster in the 1990's
9. One book you've been meaning to read: Mere Christianity, started in about 2 years ago and got sidetracked and haven't picked it back up.
10. Tag five others: I started it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

No shirt, No shoes, No service!

Okay, where in First Opinions do we find that we must dress up to go to church? My reason for this was seeing a man hitchhiking his way to work. I thought should I stop and pick him up then I was like... What would I talk to him about...(nothing because I don't really talk in the car - just ask Stacy)... If I do talk should I just jump right in and say "Man, do you have God in your life?", should I invite him to church...Just say "Be here at 8:15 Sunday morning and I'll carry you to my church." If I were to bring him would he feel embarrassed because of his dress. Maybe he would fit in better at the Inner City...MAYBE.. we shouldn't be so concerned about dress (James 2:3) Do we turn people away because we 'dress up' for Sunday. Does Mayfair get a bad 'rap' because of the middle-to-upper class that attend. Does the size of the building turn people away. But enough rambling here is the main question... Do we dress up on Sunday because a) we worship better when we are dressed up or b) God likes our worship better when we dress up.

If you choose (a) then evidently only business men required to wear suits to work are able to give true worship during the week...if (b) then poor people are just up a creek and I only have 3 suits so 4 days out of the week God doesn't appreciate my worship which is not very good because I am not dressed up.

Are we alienating people, not intentionally, I would never be so presumptuous to assume that, by the way we dress and they then seek out other denominations in which they feel more 'accepted'?

You can also bring up the dress of today but that is another blog all together but I will say this...When you let your daughter wear 'cool' clothes or 'fitting' clothes your are accomplishing one thing... The demoralizing of you daughter and her right to be respected. Boys/Men are not looking at her thinking...'Man, I she looks intelligent she would be nice to talk to.' To the men we have NO RIGHT to do this. That woman is a wife/sister/mother/daughter or will be one day. Would you want other men looking at your little girl thinking those thoughts. Come on now lets be real we are men and we know how men think so why would we allow our women to dress in a way to promote those thoughts and disrespect herself. Sorry for the tangent.

Working together?

In sending the email's out for people to pray for April I had subscribed to the West Huntsville spam email so that I could forward the email to the members there and let them sign-up as well. I recieved some other e:mails due to this. One closed..."West Huntsville is a great place to be". Anyways, when we first came over here to visit Michelle we attended the church there. The building was rather large for such a small membership. Since I am not from here nor do I know the history of all the church splits and divisions it seemed that the church at West Huntsville was withering away. For quite some time I have seen a FOR SALE sign in front of Fanning Heights Church of Christ as well as West Huntsville. Lately, however, there have been several billboards that advertise 'West Huntsville - A place where families grow". Are they trying to reinvent themselves, build their membership back up? This leads me to a thought that I had this morning as I passed the billboard and thought about the FOR SALE sign.... Why don't churches help each other grow or fix problems? It appears that we are 'sects', for lack of a better word. In the business world, specifically retail, if a store is suffering in performance and production then the District Manager or HQ sends a person or several persons to help build that store back up to an acceptable level. The company has invested to much money in property, inventory, personnel to let the store simply dwindle down to nothing and then walk away. Back to my question. Why don't we do this? Are we too prideful? Have we somehow become 'holier' than he/she at 'that' congregation? Do we disagree to such a degree that we won't help a church stay together and recover and grow? After all isn't there really just one goal? Heaven. Look at it in business perspective. How much time and energy do we have invested in the members of a church? What about the countless thousands of dollars 'given' to help pay for the building, activities, outreach, etc... I highly doubt that Wal-mart would have some 1.8 million employees and be the #1 retailer in the world if they didn't back up their stores that struggled. Sure they close stores when they become outdated but they don't simply disperse those employees to other stores and not build a bigger better store to serve the orginal area. Am I off base here in this comparison? If a church dwindles away and closes it's doors then who will be there to serve/minister to immediate area? Imagine the possibilities if we actually supported the other local congregations that were struggling and maybe sent several members to help 'revamp' or 'build' up the church...WAIT HOLD ON... that is way out of my comfort zone, besides what could I do? And there lies the quandry. Is it possible to move past the comfort zones and doubts about our abilities and really concentrate on furthering the work of the Kingdom? What could happen? Maybe we will only ponder and imagine and then realize that even that is an uncomforable to do and return to our 'hole' and let churches dwindle and close. I recently read a story about a rural Missouri church that added a second worship 'site' NOT service and they quadrupled in size. Well there are multiple 'worship' sites in town and around the world. What if we (the church) helped to expand and keep those 'sites' going strong? Would the Church of Christ be on the "Nightly News" getting an interview from Tom Brokaw about how fast it is growing and how many members join every month?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fractional Addiction

Our Men's wednesday night class started last night. I was impressed/thankful to see over 40 men attend this class to learn how to fight this battle we are forever engaged in. I fear that there is quite possibly a war that we have no 'earthly' idea that is going on for our souls, and yet at the same time we are more than equiped to fight the battle for our minds and our hearts here in this world. This class has definetly opened up my eyes to the onslaught the Devil throws at us men everyday. I am not quite sure if I am being attacked more now that I am reading this book again and trying to lead other men in this battle or if my eyes are just opened to what the world really holds. Stoeker introduces this idea of 'fractional addition' in the book. He proposes that there is a bell curve to represent the spectrum of men that struggle with not having a 'hint' of sexual immorality. On the left side of the bell curve are the 10% of men that don't have a real struggle with sexual purity on the far right side is the 10% that has a serious addiction and problem with sexual immorality. The middle of the curve is the 80% of men that have some sort of 'fractional addiction' to and struggle with sexual purity. But to quote my dad on this issue - "90% of men struggle with it and the other 10% are lying".

Fractional addiction ensares those of us, myself included, who struggle with what exactly a 'hint' is. Is a 'hint' owning a movie. For instance the beloved - "Forrest Gump". Did your mind not flash to a sex scene with Sally Field even though you could only hear the interaction. Let's take "Walk the Line" a movie that glorifies adultery. Perhaps it is a lingering look at the cover of women's magazines in the check out aisle at the supermarket. The problem lies in our 'mixed' standard of sexual purity. Sure most of us wouldn't dare to take our sexual impurity to the level of perhaps an affair. Although if we are going to use Jesus as the 'bar' then, correct me if I am wrong, but He did say that "even look lustfully at a woman, you have committed adultery with her in your heart." But I digress, back to my point. We wouldn't have a physical affair so we somewhat comform to that part of God's command but do we always "Flee from sexual immorality." You see we turn the standard of sexual purity into a 'cafeteria' plan for our own good. Whatever I can feel comfortable following then those are the parts I will follow but the parts that are 'too hard' for me to follow I will leave out. We 'mix' standards and that is precisely the root cause for our predicament we find ourselves in today.

So I will close with one final thought. Are we 'obedient' to God's call for sexual purity or are we 'excellent' at following His plan? Before you answer think of the differnce in these two terms. Obedience is 100% following what you are called to do. Excellence on the other hand is falling just short of perfection (obedience). You see it is too costly for a company to give 'perfect' service, a 'perfect' product, a 'perfect' store so they stop just short and give 'excellent' service, products, and stores. So I ask again...Are we 'obedient' to God's call for sexual purity or are we merely excellent at following it.

We're leaving this one here?

I imagine that Lawson has no clue what is about to happen to him. He loved looking at Jordan and gave her plenty of kisses, but I don't quite think he knows that she is coming home with us.

One Man, Two Women

I am now the proud father of a baby girl who has somehow managed to capitvate my heart the second I heard her cry. I was wondering how can you love another child as much as you love the first. Well one fact is certain. You never run out of love. There is no capacity on it, no set amount that you are given to use at your discretion.