The High Calling

I recently ran across a handout from a breakout session taught by Billy Beacham during a Youth Minister’s Conclave in 2005 – 10 years ago!  As I reviewed my notes, I could literally remember the room, where I was sitting, and the impact the content had on my heart.  As I read the last page, a piece called “The High Calling”, I was reminded of the power and the gravity with which God used this to speak to me.  I thought I would share it here.  I pray you are as blessed… and challenged as I was.

Enjoy…

Others May, You Cannot!

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put on you demands of obedience that sometimes will not allow you to follow other Christians. In many ways He will seem to let other good people do things He will not let you do.

Other Christians, and even ministers, who seem very religious and useful may push themselves, pull strings, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do these things. And if you attempt them, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, about their work, about their success, about their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing; and if you begin bragging, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may only supply you daily, because He wants you to have something far better than gold—a helpless dependence on Him—that He may have the privilege of providing your needs daily out of the unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and keep you hidden away in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God will let others be great, but keep you small. He, will let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. And then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done, and this will make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, with jealous love, and rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasted time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign who has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and needs not to explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word; and if you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and let other people say and do many things you cannot do or say.

Settle it forever that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes in ways that others are not disciplined.

Now when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven.

– G.D. Watson

Pray for your pastor… please!

This past Sunday, during my message, I shared the importance of praying for pastors and church leaders.  The need for the influence of the church in culture and, more importantly, in eternity is hard to overemphasis.  It is a humbling and frightening realization that the pastor is point man for the church’s influence.  Charles Finney, 19th century evangelist and one of the agents God used during the Great Awakening, said the following:

“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.”

It is incredibly important that the church pray for pastors.  Pray for the pastors around the globe, for the pastors in local churches.  And please pray for the pastor that leads your fellowship.  It is often true that we talk to each other about our pastor (not always is good terms), but seldom do we talk to God about the man He has placed in our church’s pulpit.  Galatians 6 calls us “who [are] taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches us.” (Galatians 6:6)  One of the “good things” we should be sharing is faithfulness in praying for the pastor.

But, how should you pray for your pastor?  What are the specific areas and concerns?  We may never know the specific needs of any individual, but I stumbled upon this little acrostic by David Chancey.  I really appreciate this tool for a couple of reasons.  1) Because it succinctly list some real needs and concerns in a pastor’s life.  2) Because I often get distracted in prayer.  These simple tools really help me stay “on task” when praying.

How do you pray for your pastor? Let’s use the acrostic P-A-S-T-O-R.

P ¬ Pray for your pastor’s purity.

Pastors are human just like everybody else and they are subject to great temptation. One of the greatest downfalls affecting pastors and other ministers these days is Internet pornography. Beyond the temptation of lust is the temptation for power, popularity, love for money, and other areas.  Pray that your pastor will not put himself into a position to be tempted, and that when temptation comes, he’ll have the strength to resist.

Pray also for your pastor’s perseverance (physical and emotional health).

Pastoral ministry is physically taxing.  Long days and short night are the norm.  Frequently pastors are in contact with people who need encouragement and prayer during times of illness.  Because of limited finances, health care is seldom a priority.  All of these factor come together to make a pastor’s physical health a concern.  Pray that God protect your pastor from illness, disease, and injury.

Discouragement comes easily when the work seems to be moving too slowly or when a congregation is underachieving. Burnout among ministers is common because they give and give, and don’t always receive. Fatigue is common. Contrary to belief in some circles, ministers work more than just one day a week.

A ¬ Pray for your pastor’s anointing.

Pastors need a fresh touch from God so they’ll have a fresh word for the people. They need God’s power in their life. They need God’s power in the pulpit. Pray that your pastor will not serve in his own strength, but will serve in the power of God.

S ¬ Pray for your pastor’s study time.

Pray that he will keep his own spiritual life nourished and fresh. As he prepares Sunday’s message, pray that he’ll have plenty of time that is uninterrupted in which he can discover “a word from the Lord.” Pray that he’ll stay up-to-date and will continue growing personally and spiritually. Be sure that he is taking time away now and then to attend conferences and continuing education events that will recharge his spiritual batteries.

T ¬ Pray for your pastor’s time management.

A lot pulls at a pastor’s time. His work is never completed. There is always someone else he should have seen, another prospect to visit or another call he needed to make. And in between a myriad of duties, Sunday is still coming whether his sermon is ready or not.

O ¬ Pray for your pastor’s obedience.

Pray for God to help your pastor to know and do God’s will.

R ¬ Pray for your pastor’s relationships.

Pray for his family and pray that their time together will be rich. Pray for his work with the other ministers on staff. Pray for his relationships with church leaders and with other people in the community. Pray for harmony and a sense of teamwork.

I hope this encourages and empowers you to pray for your pastor.  In addition to praying, why not consider a word of encouragement as well.

 

Alcohol and the Christian

“I Do What I Want!”

alcoholI feel that I need to address the blog post by PRESTON SPRINKLE for Relevant Magazine’s web site.  You can read the blog here if you like: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/what-does-bible-really-say-about-alcohol

“I Do What I Want!”  That is often the mantra of the culture we live in.  I regularly preach against “list-living”; but just as dangerous (and possibly more insidious) is living for the “loop-holes”.   This author is doing just that.  He is justifying his desire for alcohol consumption using proof texts.  If a reader actually looked up the passages he gives as support for his position, it would become obvious that he is not a student looking for truth, but an advocate seeking loopholes.  For example, Deuteronomy 14:26 in no way commands the purchase of Strong Drink.  It commands that, in certain cases, the tithes (the actual product of their labor) be converted to currency and spent in the community where the offering is to be made – so that the Levites would benefit from the commerce.  You were allowed to buy “whatever your heart desires”, including wine, strong drink… or sheep.

All that said, the Scriptures do not forbid the consumption of alcohol.  …Jesus really turned water into wine.  …The cup that was passed at our Lord’s last supper was actually wine.  So what’s the big deal?  Just live and let drink.  I mean, stop shoving your list on me!  Let me say right here, I am not telling anyone (Christian or not) that “having a drink” is sinful or ungodly… and I am in NO WAY suggesting that this is a salvation issue – we are saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not our abstinence or activity.

I will say that it is not wise in our culture – especially for leaders – to consume alcohol.  In fact, we want our leaders, at Mayfield, to abstain from alcohol – especially in public.  You might accuse me of preaching a list, here …or even being a hypocrite.  I understand.  I am not going to question your salvation or love for God if you have a drink.  But I am going to have a discussion with you if you are a leader in the church I pastor.  Can I support with Scripture?  You bet.  Proverbs warns the King NOT to consume alcohol of any kind.  “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink…” (Proverbs 31:4)

There are many, many dire warning against the misuse of alcohol in Scripture.

  • Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine.” (Proverbs 23:29–30, NASB95)
  • Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness.” (Ecclesiastes 10:16–17, NASB95)
  • Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink,” (Isaiah 5:22, NASB95)
  • Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty, Which is at the head of the fertile valley Of those who are overcome with wine!” (Isaiah 28:1, NASB95)
  • The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.” (Isaiah 28:3, NASB95)
  • And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment. For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place.” (Isaiah 28:7–8, NASB95)

A Culture of Too Much

Scripture is, among other things, a historical document.  I am in no way suggesting that is not “Relevant” (pun intended) to our culture.  It absolutely is.  But the wine and strong drink of the ancient culture of Scripture was not the same as the alcohol we have today.  There were multiple cultural differences.  It is important to consider these, as Christians, when we search the Scriptures for areas of freedom.  Paul warned the Galatian church, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)  SERVE one another!  We are not to search out our liberties, but opportunities to serve.  That’s why Paul also speaks to this in similar fashion when he is addressing the eating of meat offered to idols – something he is completely free to do.  Yet, considering the culture he says, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:13)  If that is the approach he takes with food (a necessity), shouldn’t we consider the same thing in regard to alcohol (decidedly NOT a necessity)?!

Here is the truth.  In our culture, alcohol is an ENEMY!  It is a destroyer!  Like the thief Jesus referred to in John 10:10, it leaves ripped off hope, death, and destruction in its wake (no, not all the time, but that is the overarching trend).  Because we have referred to lists already, here is a list for your consideration:

  • Nearly 88,0007 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women8) die from alcohol related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2012, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 10,322 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
  • In 2006, alcohol misuse problems cost the United States $223.5 billion.
  • Alcohol contributes to over 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions, most notably alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries.12 In 2012, alcohol accounted for 5.1 percent of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide.
  • Globally, alcohol misuse is the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability; among people between the ages of 15 and 49, it is the first.
  • More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study.
  • Prevalence of Drinking: 2 out of 5 15-year-olds report that they have had at least 1 drink in their lives. In 2012, about 9.3 million people ages 12–20 (24.3 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month (24.7 percent of males and 24 percent of females).
  • Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing an AUD. In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths.17
  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.
  • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • The prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the United States was estimated by the Institute of Medicine in 1996 to be between 0.5 and 3.0 cases per 1,000. (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse)

I have personally witnessed the devastation brought by alcohol in this culture.  I have never hidden the fact that I have 2 alcohol related arrests in my past (both in the early 80s).  The second arrest could have easily resulted in death – mine or someone else’s.  …only by the grace of God.

I have a good friend who was raised in a good home, who loves Jesus and has lived for Him since his early teenage years.  After a few “social drinks” celebrated with some friends, he got into his vehicle and killed the father of a family when he “couldn’t hold his liquor”.

I have seen marriages ripped apart because of alcohol.  Often, there are other issues (infidelity and the sort) that are fueled by alcohol.

I know young women who lost their “innocence” because they agreed to have a drink.

Alcohol is a killer!  Maybe not every time… maybe not for everyone.  But that is part of its danger in our culture.  Isn’t it wise to be on guard against such subtle enemy to brothers and sisters in our culture?

Sin is Sin!

I completely get the argument that says, “Hey, gluttony is big issue too.”  “What the sin of over eating?  …or over spending?  …or over doing it in other areas?”  The argument here is what I might call the “cheeseburger” argument.  The thought is that one person struggles with alcohol while another struggles with food.  It’s really not the “substance” that is evil – it’s a heart issue.  First, I want to be clear: There is absolute truth in that statement.  It is always about the heart.

All sin has the exact same eternal consequence.  But every sin is NOT created equal in terms of human interaction.  A classic place people will often turn to support the idea that all sin is the same is Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.  He is talking to a group of people who found their “righteousness” in keeping the letter of the law.  He would point to the law and say, “you have heard it said…” and then to the human heart with the words, “…but I say to you.”  One of these areas was the Law’s command to not murder.  Jesus pointed at the heart issue and said that having hatred, anger, and bitterness carries the same weight in court of eternity.  But we recognize that there is a vast difference in culture between holding a grudge and taking a life.  Jesus was placing all of humanity on equal ground in terms of our guilt before Almighty God, not calling every offence in human interaction equal.

With that said, there is a vast difference between eating a double Whataburger for lunch and having a double shot of vodka in my coffee at breakfast.  The first may send me to shopping for bigger pants, but the second could easily cost much more – my job, a human life, my freedom (should I get arrested for DWI).  Cheeseburgers won’t alter my ability to function or think or react, but just a very small amount of alcohol can alter my ability to function.  No.  All sins are not equal.

A Final Thought

Let’s look for opportunities to serve each other.  When we go looking for loopholes, we will find them.  Someone once said, “When you’re looking for an excuse, any excuse will do.”  Jesus never called us to exercise the greatest amount freedom we can, and don’t let anyone hold you down or judge you for it.  He said the greatest in the Kingdom is the servant of all.  Granted, this can – and should be applied to so many areas of life.  But we are talking about alcohol, here.

One other thing. I have already said it, but allow me to restate it:  This is not a Salvation issue!  In fact, my appeal here is directed at people who are saved by Grace and are walking in a love-relationship with Christ.  No one else is going to even consider these things.  We, who desire to honor God with our lives BECAUSE he has set us free… shouldn’t we look at this issue from servant’s perspective.

Once Saved… Always Saved?

Can a person lose the Salvation they received from God when the “believed in the Lord Jesus” and were saved?

A very good friend recently sent me a link to read and respond to.  The link was from a man who was warning us not to assume that salvation is secure.  He was concerned that some might thing that being saved means you can’t lose your salvation, and I think was genuinely motivated by his concern to protect some from “falling from grace”.  You can read the blog here if you like.

Obviously, I disagree with the writer.  This is an old argument; but one that is answered pretty easily with a good grasp of the Scriptures.  Once a person is truly saved, that person is saved for good – eternally.  In fact, if a person could lose his salvation (as the writer claims he did) there would be no way for him to get it back – to be saved again.  I’ll show you what I mean.

Let’s look at this Scripturally (as the writer suggests)

The Seed and the Soil

He quotes from Matthew 13, the Parable of the Soils.  “And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. “He who has ears, let him hear.”” (Matthew 13:3–9, NASB95)

And then, Jesus’ explanation: “Hear then the parable of the sower. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”” (Matthew 13:18–23, NASB95)

One and Done!

He then references John 3:16 and points to the word “believes”.  The original word is, in fact, written in what we call “present-active” tense.  However, it is also written with a singular intention.  In other words, it happens once and continues through the end.  Once our faith is genuinely placed in the fullness of Christ’s provision, that faith continues – and that’s a God thing.  It’s a “one and done” kind of faith.  Paul said, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  The truth is that God is the One holding our eternal security – not us.  (see John 10:27-30)

The Evidence of Faith is in the Fruit

So, what about the Parable above?  Doesn’t Jesus imply that some of the seed started but then fell away?  If that applies to humans and salvation, doesn’t that mean they fell from God’s grace?  Notice that three of the seeds had one thing in common.  They failed to produce fruit.  Only one seed – the seed that fell on the good ground – produced fruit.  Saving faith ALWAYS produces fruit.  James asked, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14)  Paul makes it even more clear in Ephesians when he says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)   Saving faith produces fruit (works).  This is not going to church, or reading the Bible, or even going street-witnessing… the fruit produced in the Christian life is a change of heart, not a change of actions: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)

The writer claims he fell from grace – lost his salvation, and the regained it (which is impossible, as I will show you in a minute).  He says that he “gave his life to the Lord at a Youth for Christ event” and had all the outward signs of faith for 5 years.  Then he rejected Christ and lived to “curse Jesus and [fight] against Christianity”.  He asks the question, “Was I ‘saved’ during those 25 years of anti-Christian ‘preaching’?” and then answers it with a “resounding NO.”  I agree with him in this: he was not a Christian when he was cursing Christ.  For five years he lived as one of the other soils.  The seed was planted and there were some outward signs of growth.  But either the sun of persecution scorched his growth or the weeds of selfish desire chocked out the growth – the faith was not a “believing” faith.  How do I know?  Because it produced no fruit.

John 3:16 was quoted above and the word “believe” was analyzed in its tense, but not in its definition.  Believe translates the Greek word PISTEUŌ.  It means to be persuaded of something, and hence, to place confidence in, to trust… it signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere acceptance of ideas.  In fact, earlier in John it is used in a way that details this sort of “believing”.  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…” (John 1:12)  This is not a mental ascent but a full-hearted faith that abandons everything else.

A faith that believes in Jesus for the blessings He will bestow, and is not prepared to endure the suffering His name also brings, is NOT a believing faith.  It may not always be seen (Cross reference the parable that followed the sower and the seed in Matt 13:24-30), but persecution and worldly desire will reveal it.  Saving faith declares with Rhea Miller, who penned the words,

“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I’d rather have His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand…”

Once saved…. And only once!

Finally, let me direct you to Hebrews 6.  In the book of Hebrews, the author is comparing the old Jewish system of repeated sacrifices as a covering for sin – over and over, to the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  As the sin covering of animal sacrifice would wear thin, a new sacrifice was needed.  Each sacrifice was woefully insufficient.  However, the atoning, forgiving, sin-covering sacrifice of the sinless Son of God is fully sufficient to cover ALL sin.  In chapter 6 he encourages his readers to “leave behind the elementary teachings” of that old system.  It’s not that those things were bad – not at all; it is that something so much better had come.  He explains that if we use the same “repeated sacrifice” mentality for the sacrifice of Christ is would never work.  He gives the hypothetical example of losing the atonement of Jesus (like you would the atonement of a bull or lamb). “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4–6)

Did you catch that?  If one could fall away (lose their salvation) there would be NO WAY to regain it.  Why?  Because Christ would have to be sacrificed again.  His one application of atoning grace was not sufficient to complete what He began, and He is subject to public shame.

If Saved, Always Saved

Once saved, always saved?  Yes!  Or as my more reformed friends like to say it, “IF saved, always saved”.  It’s the work of God in the heart of a person who abandons all and casts their faith exclusively upon Christ.  So I say with Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain…” (1 Corinthians 15:10, NASB95)

 

IMMEDIATELY! The urgency of Jesus observed in Mark, chapter 1

It seems a reoccurring word that Mark chooses to use in this opening chapter is the Greek word “euthys”.  The New American Standard Bible Euthys -word studytranslates the word “immediately” every time.  The NIV translates it “without delay”, and the KJV seems to favor “straightway”.  They all carry the same understanding – there was a sense of urgency in the ministry of Jesus.  He had holy ambition, and Mark understood it.

Jesus’ urgency centered on His mission and His message.  His message was “repent and believe”.  Those are two words that really describe one “act” – if it can truly be called an act.

Repent translates the Greek word “metanoeite”, which basically means to change your mind or your purpose.  We often think of repenting as the cessation of sin – cleaning up our act.  While the original word carries the idea that there will be an outward change, the focus of the word is simply to change your mind.  It is to let go of one perceived truth to embrace another.

Believe is the positive side of repenting.  The original word means to be persuaded that something is true.  Once I abandon one way of thinking or understanding, I must attach my belief (my faith) to another.  So, “Repent and Believe” is honestly one solitary act of the mind.  “I once was blind (believing falsehood), but now I see.”

And what was the message His hearers were to believe?  The Gospel – the Good News.  He was adamant and urgent that those in His hearing would reject faulty belief regarding their relationship with God and embrace truth.  Jesus spelled out this truth to Nicodemus, in John chapter 3.  Nicodemus could not depend on his national origin (his birthright) to ensure his relationship with God.  He must be born again – literally “born from above”.  This interaction led Jesus to summarize His mission in one of the most succinct and well know passages of Scripture: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

There was an urgency in Jesus’ message because nothing is more important than eternity. I am sometimes concerned that we have become a people without urgency.  …myself as the biggest violator!  I pray that I would see people as Jesus did… as He still does.  I pray that we will develop an attitude of ‘immediacy” when it comes sharing the message of the Gospel – Repent and Believe!

 

The Problem with 50 Shades of Grey.

With “50 shades…” and “Magic Mike”, seducing a generation of women, it is refreshing to read this amazing blog from Haley Morgan Smith. The Christian community tends to focus a lot on what it takes to be a real man – biblical manhood (as we should); but Haley calls women to what a real, godly wife looks like.
It’s a little lengthy (hey, it’s a blog – not a tweet), so you may have to actually sit down and focus. But it is worth the investment.

Haley Morgan Smith Blog

Why, hello people I love.

Before I continue writing, note that this blog is PG-13. I’m gonna talk about sex. So. Fair warning.

Picture this. You’re in the kitchen warming up supper and your husband comes home from work. He says hello, kisses you, and lays a plastic bag on the counter. In the plastic bag is book with a naked lady on the cover in a provocative pose. You get on Facebook, and you see he has liked the fan page of the book. You see that he has shared the book’s movie trailer on his page. You see that he is discussing with all his guy friends publicly who should  be the actress portraying the naked girl on the book cover. He is discussing which lady in Hollywood is the hottest, has the biggest breasts and butt, prettiest face, etc. He is saying how he wishes the naked lady’s…

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Proverbs 5

As several of us are reading and responding to the Proverbs together in July, I thought it best to take my “wordiness” to my blog site.  Here are some thoughts I have from Proverbs 5…

Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth.” (Proverbs 5:7)  The instruction is very simple.  Listen and do.  However, this simple instruction is not always easy.  Like we all agreed yesterday, our hearts are deceptive and lean toward selfish desire.  The adulteress he warns against beginning in verse 3, probably has some very literal application.  However Jesus made it clear that adultery is a condition of the heart before it is in the body (Matt 5:28).

So we must choose.  Listen to godly instruct and obey, or hate instruction, having a heart that spurns correction (verse 12).  I pray that I remain “instructable” – teachable all my life.  I pray that for you as well.  How do we insure that we remain teachable?

1)      Stay away from the temptations of the “adulteress” lifestyle. (verse 8)  There lies dormant in each of us desires that will run counter to the instruction and will of God – it is our sin nature, and we were all BORN THAT WAY.  A thought or one simple act can expose that sleeping passion to the light.  It is so much better to let “sleeping passions lie” in those cases.  To have never know the “hunger” of insatiable flesh that “carnal knowledge” awakens is a blessing.  “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see… little ears what you hear… little hands what you do…”

2)      Heed the instructions of God.  In His goodness, God has given us His word – His testimony and instruction.  He has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him, in spite of the sin that separates us from Him.  That way is exclusively the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Once we are in Him, we are to align ourselves with His instruction.  We do this as we give ourselves to systematically reading and internalizing His Word – the Bible, submitting ourselves to a local body of brothers and sisters in Christ, and placing ourselves under the doctrinal instruction of godliness – Bible preaching, teaching, song, etc.  Regular and purposed exposure and accountability to God’s word and God’s people.

3)      A position of dependency upon and satisfaction with God for everything.  Prayer is a profound thing – to have intimate, genuine audience with God is a gift without measure.  But prayer is first a position.  I pray from the position that every good and perfect gift come from Him (James 1:17) and not my own efforts.  I pray from a position of satisfaction, knowing that God knows what I need before I ask (Matt 6:8).  I pray from a position that recognizes God’s deep love for me and His desire to withhold nothing from me (Romans 8:32).  I pray from the position that recognizes my heart can, and often does, desire things that God does not desire for me (James 4:3).  That is the position we are called to in verses 15-19 of Proverbs 5 – a deep satisfaction with what God, who loves us, has given us.  “Drink water from your own cistern … rejoice in the wife of your youth. …Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.”

Contrast this to the position of the man Proverbs 5:20-23 describes.  A man who is willing to embrace the bosom of a foreigner – ostensibly because he has not found satisfaction in the wife of his youth (the gifts of God) and regards them with contempt.  Instead he is exhilarated with the desires of his adulteress heart and follows them head-long into ruin.

All this to say, the one who stays away from the allure of worldly desire will likely not have to fight awoken passions that insight rebellion against God.  The man or woman who submits to accountability and instruction from God’s word and God’s people, remaining ever teachable exposes early sin and knows the blessing of obedience.  And the person who recognizes God’s love and sets themselves in a position of satisfaction with and dependency upon Him will be blessed and ultimately satisfied.