Better Than Google Play

I have to admit… I love this ad. The video was written and put together so well, it tugged at my heart strings and dipped into my passions and made me want to join those little girls shooting arrows at injustice! “Hate, love, laugh, cry. Watch, listen and play. Feel with your heart.” This Google Play ad teaches us about our humanity in such a beautiful way, that we long to feel and remember the good and fight against the bad, to make life count, to be on the side of justice and joy. This is indeed what we were created for: life, beauty, adventure, justice, sacrifice, generosity, love.

But the end of Google’s ad gives us a glimpse into their ‘profit-driven-answer’ as to how this life can be lived to the fullest… Go to “Google Play, and play your heart out.” “Get more apps and games. Watch more movies and listen to more music. This is truly living!” Now, I’m not against good music and movies, I love them, a lot… but they are not the way to life, and beauty, and adventure. They ultimately leave us empty and void of life. Try it… Play games all day, or look at Facebook and watch everyone else’s life that is better and happier than yours, and see how you feel after wards.

The digital social world looks so good, but the fall from the “high” is a big let down. This type of numbing so that we can live a happy life looks even better when the way to real life, at least what history has shown us is found in sacrifice, suffering, and courage. It’s much easier to feel good by watching a movie or buying a new app, but Jesus’ answer is radically different, much like history’s answer has shown us.

Allow me to speak on behalf of God for a moment, because Jesus demands to be heard in this conversation, for many reasons, but one especially from the gospel of Mark. In the opening chapter of Mark’s letter, Jesus utters the most spectacular announcement of all time: the kingdom of God is here! (Mark 1:15). But what’s even more spectacular is what happens after Jesus announces this spectacular statement, He displays what this statement means and looks like.

If we read through Mark’s letter about Jesus, we would see that He lives and teaches like no other religious ruler ever has. Each miracle, every sermon and movement toward the poor is calculated to beat back evil and restore creation to its Maker. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. The sick are healed. The social outcasts are socially restored. The untouchable are touched. The oppressed are freed. The oppressors are condemned.

Then at the end of Mark’s letter, we see that Jesus’ plan all along was to take all that was broken in the world, and absorb it for us. This means sin done against us, and sin we’ve done against others (and ourselves) is consumed by Christ, but it came at a high cost for Jesus. He became cursed by our cursings and was rejected because of our reputation. Thankfully Jesus, being God, died, and and then was resurrected, and when He did, he put to death the death of death and has now offered us, through sacrifice, suffering, and courage, the greatest gift of all… the “Way” to true life, true beauty, true adventure, true justice, true generosity, true love.

The point isn’t to hate on Google play or apps or movies, buy them, have fun with them, watch them, enjoy them with friends and family, “play your heart out”, but don’t run to them to answer questions about life, or look to them to define beauty and sacrifice, or allow them to create a cyber world that’s more real then your neighbor next to you, or your wife or kids.

By Jesus’ word and works of power, He is bringing the kingdom, the ultimate and most satisfying app on the market! You can’t buy it though… you must believe Him and then share Him with others, because He’s the ultimate flesh-satisfying and soul-defining gift to the world. Don’t play without Him!

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Nonnie and Poppy!

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Nonnie and Poppy are my parents. This is what our kids call my mom and dad. Nonnie is the Italian (my mom’s 100% Italian!) term from Grandma and Poppy just feels right to say after “Nonnie”, even though it’s not Italian. Nonnie and Poppy have been with us since the beginning of our church plant at Kineo. Honestly, Kineo wouldn’t have happened without them being there. They have been the most amazingly faithful and supportive members of our body, through the crap and the roses! I wanted to give them a shout out today and let them know that I am thankful for them. Words can’t express how they’ve blessed me, my wife, and our kids. Since we started Kineo, we had our fourth child, I started seminary full-time, worked side jobs to pay the bills, and navigated the complexities of family life. My parents have been gamers this whole time, sticking it out with us, blessing us, watching kids, changing diapers (well, at lest Nonnie changed em’), tithing way more than they could afford, and being a display of love, joy, and sacrifice to the church family at Kineo.

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Thanks for all you’ve done mom and dad. I love you!

Going All The Way!

I was a Young Life leader (a mentor to high school students) for 10 years, and during that time, I overheard many conversations of young boys who would talk about “Going all the way” with their girlfriends, or some “chick from the party”. As someone now who’s been married for almost 15 years and have gone through quite a bit of suffering with my wife, that phrase “Going all the way” in regards to some sexual feat sounds cheap and dismissive of the real work of love, and the cost of “going all the way”.

This is Calvin Matthews. He has “gone all the way”.

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In 1976, he was out of town for work during the last week of July. On July 31st, his wife Gloria and his fourteen year old son George were home during the great flood that came out of Estes Park, and they both died that day. This drove him to “hit the bottle”, and he began to drink… a lot. In his words, “By a miracle of the great Lord”, he met Thelma at the bar, she had just lost her mother, and was there to have a drink to distract herself from the pain. She wasn’t medicating with alcohol, but Calvin was. Needless to say, they fell in love and she introduced Calvin to the best medicine ever, Jesus.

Calvin said, “The dear Lord used Thelma to save my life.” Years later, after 30 years of marriage, in 2007, Thelma had a stroke and after a series of procedures, she was bound to the hospital and eventually was placed in a nursing home because Calvin couldn’t care for her at home. Since 2007, Calvin spends most of his waking hours their with Thelma, helping her eat, reading to her, singing for her, and making her laugh; he has also become a friend to many others who are bound to their new home.

Calvin is the pastor at that nursing home. He’s also an awesome model of “going all the way” with a woman. We need more Calvin’s in this world. More men who are called to “go all the way” when it costs them everything. This, in my opinion is the remedy for our over sexualized culture that abuses and emasculates men and women.

I pray that I can “go all the way” with my wife one day. Thanks for the example Calvin!

Mr. and Mrs. for 14 Years and Counting…

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As a church planter, often times counting is bad because people like me tend to find their significance from the number of butts in a seat on a Sunday morning. This is a bad measure of success, so I have stopped counting… and I sleep much better at night! But counting the number of years of marriage has been a fun thing to do. Each year that comes by and we celebrate another anniversary, we get excited about celebrating the next year (next year is 15 years… can’t wait to get to that one!).

Although 14 years to some couples is only half or a third of the time they’ve been married, for us, that number represents much more than just a number. It represents all that we’ve gone through and been through together. It represents grace, joy, pain, struggle, fear, children, celebrations, transitions, losses, happiness, etc. This morning is our first morning in a new house that we have just moved into, and it marks for me (us) another new chapter… a new chapter where we get to put together all of our hard learned lessons and aim for what the next 14 years will look like.

Amy and I (and the kids), after four years of planting Kineo, have finally and fully moved in to the neighborhood of Alhambra Village, down the street from our church. This move marks a deeper commitment to our neighborhood and to solidarity with those who have been underserved and overlooked. I mention this because these are two words that Amy and I have felt like to each other during some of our worst days together over these last 14 years and we know what it’s like (to some measure) to be underserved or overlooked.

The secret to a healthy marriage is obviously a deep and abiding commitment to Christ Jesus and to seek His glory over the glory of ourselves or our marriage. But once that is in place and pursued as a life long desire (even when you don’t feel like it), seeking the welfare of one another is probably the best lesson I have learned in marriage.

Underserved. If you use this word in the context of marriage, this means that a spouse is being served less than the other spouse is serving one’s self of something else. This is a terrible recipe for joy and happiness in a marriage, not to mention it’s wrongly displaying what marriage was meant to be (self-giving love and sacrifice for the good of the other). My first calling as I press hard into Christ Jesus, is to serve my wife first, yes, even to overserve her, or out serve her. I can track back over the years of our marriage and the crappy days, weeks, or months have been when I have underserved my wife. This new move marks for me a re-commitment to overserve and outserve my wife.

Overlooked. Again, when this word comes up in the context of marriage, ¡este no es nada bueno! Underserving is one thing (and I don’t want to minimize underserving), but overlooking the other spouse is worse. It usually means that you are dodging, ignoring, stonewalling, or have your focus on other people or things so much so, that the other spouse is or feels overlooked. Overlooking a spouse, much like overlooking the poor, the orphan, the widow, or the stranger, always leads to injustice, and God hates injustice. Too many days overlooking one another in marriage creates patterns that only much pain and stripping will cure, and many times, once patterns of overlooking occurs in a marriage, hope for reconciliation seems bleak, and many couples end up divorcing one another.

14 years and counting… because I want each celebration of another anniversary to be better than the last one. I don’t want to forget the lessons we’ve learned and the meaning of marriage to fall by the way side. I want to say at the end of year 14, that we put more time and energy (maybe not money) into our relationship this year than we did while we were planning for a big wedding. I want to outdo our celebrations each year and rejoice in that fact that two sinners are striving to outserve and outnotice one another. I want the gaze I have on Amy to be more intimate and heart moving than the gaze I had on her as she walked down the aisle 14 years ago. I want to display the beauty and worth of Jesus and His bride through our marriage. Here’s to many more years of doing just that, by God’s grace!

My Reflections on 13 Years of Marriage

May 29th, 2012 marks 13 years of loving, sacrificial, and partially kept vows. I say “partially” because as I reflect on the vows that I made to Amy, and I have not kept them perfectly. Actually, there have been times where I have been an outright jerk. I am so thankful that we made mutual vows to love one another through the good and the “bad” days. Often times, at weddings, when we hear couples say, “I promise to love you through the good days and the bad days”, and our thoughts never imagine that those bad days would be there because of their own unlovliness or immaturity… but that is usually the case for many of the bad days. But nonetheless, 13 years later, we are in love and we actually like each other!

With this day comes many memories of how we began. I first met Amy 18 years ago, we went on our first date 15.5 years ago, we had our first kiss 13 years ago (that first one took a lot of work, but it was worth it!), and a year later we cut covenant with one another, diving head first in to one of the most exhilarating journey’s ever! Nine years ago we became parents together, which began another exhilarating journey together…

Four years into marriage, we had our first son Noah who is 9 years old, and is now walking with Jesus and growing in his love and understanding of Scripture and Jesus. Then three years later we had our first daughter Mia who is 6, and loves Jesus and is daily figuring out what it looks like to trust this God who she can’t see. Halle was born 1.5 years after Mia and is 4.5 and Isaac came 1.5 years after Halle and is gonna be 3 next month. I am over joyed for the family God has entrusted to Amy and I.

The last 13 years have been full of fun, laughter, tears, sleepless nights, good fights, endless seasons of relentlessness, and plenty of “what the heck have we done!?” moments. These years of marriage and parenting have been “sweet” only because of all the trials, battles, fights, and despair, that have driven us to Christ-sufficiency, not self-sufficiency. Plus, without the bitter tastes in life, we would never know that sweet is actually sweet, thus, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable!

It’s actually those seasons and moments that define our marriage and family. I wouldn’t want “us” without all of the junk we have gone through. I also wouldn’t want all the junk we have gone through without the covenant commitment that Amy and I made to one another 13 years ago, one that we continue to renew day after day. And we definitely wouldn’t have made that covenant commitment to one another had it not been for a covenant keeping God who chased us down, saved us and sealed our salvation and identity in Christ alone. This is the anchor of our love and the reason why 13 years of marriage and four children later, we still want to be together.

Last year I posted 10 priorities about our marriage that were, sort of like insiders, into how we have weathered the good and the bad days of marriage. As I read over them again this year, I am still in agreement with them and thought I’d re-post them, while adding a few more thoughts to some of them. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a list that we keep perfectly. Instead, these ten things have been priorities to us and we have labored imperfectly over each one of them. Ultimately, we trust the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus for our righteousness and hope of being with Jesus when heaven and earth are reunited:

1. We both submit to the sovereign God and ultimately trust His will for our lives and the lives of our children. This has removed a lot of questions, doubt, anxiety and frustration about all the “why’s” of life. This is what we know about God. He loves us. He cares for us. We were not accidents. He is actively and daily for us because of Jesus’ sacrifice and His Holy Spirit. (Psalm 115:3)

2. We have both committed to find our joy and comfort in God alone, not from marriage or kids. This is one of those things that we daily fail at, yet we daily come before God and ask for the eyes and the heart to see Him as the comforter and source of joy. Marriages (or anything else in life) cannot bear the weight of being the sole provider of joy and comfort. (Matthew 6:33)

3. We have both committed to being transparent with our lives. This is one of those freedoms you give up in marriage, only to gain more of a radical freedom that one could never imagine. Much like surrendering to Jesus, when a married couple surrenders their rights to living hidden lives, the freedom after that surrender is incomparable. This is often a very hard thing to do, but it is essential to marriage. Many of the “bad” days are because their are lies that lay under the foundation of marriage, and lies suck at building a firm foundation. (1 John 1:5-10)

4. We both treat one another with dignity and worth. We do not slander one another, bad talk one another to our friends, or disrespectfully complain to other people about what we are or aren’t doing. We do not control one another to get what we want. When we do fail to honor this commitment, we openly confess our sin or call out the other person and practice open repentance with one another often. Men, this one is huge for your wife. Let her know (in a thousand different ways) that she is beautiful, that she has value, and is worth more than she could ever imagine. (Psalm 8)

5. We understand our God-given roles. We believe that God has given specific roles to the husband and wife. The husband is to be the head of his wife and is called to love her as Christ loves the church (which means he dies first, not that he rules with an iron fist!). The wife is to submit to her husband in the way that Jesus submitted to the Father (she is not to submit to an abusive jerk). The model of this perfectly loving and submissive relationship is modeled by God the Father and God the Son. Even though we believe in biblical submission of a wife to a husband and biblical love of a wife by the husband (as Christ loved the church), we do not hold any role higher than another role. And because we are friends, we gladly mutually submit to one another. (Ephesians 5:21)

6. We make sure the kids know that Jesus comes first, then mommy and daddy, then them. This may sound weird at first, but the worst thing we could ever do for our marriage or our kids is to make them feel or think that they are the center of our universe. Our kids need to desperately see us place Jesus as the center of our universe, and then they need to see a mom and dad who love one another more than they love them. The fact is, our kids will one day grow up and be gone, but Amy and I will have each other long after that. And whether our kids know it or not at their ages, they want more than anything else in the world for their mommy and daddy to love each other. This gives kids great security and confidence in life. (Col. 1:15-20)

7. We are intentional with our time together. We went on consistent and frequent dates before the kids came, but after we had a couple of kids, the dates were few and far between. Even if we can’t get nights away from the kids, we intentionally plan evenings after the kids went to bed to invest in one another, care for one another, hear one another, and some other things that wouldn’t be appropriate to share here. We learned from an older couple whom we love and respect, that this should take up 14 hours (no less) of our week. I know this seems like a lot, but think about how often you spend time doing other things that aren’t nearly as important. This discipline will transform your marriage… I dare you to try it! (Eph. 5:25-33)

8. We surround ourselves with good friends. We both know that we were created to be in relationship with people and that we need other people to love on us, our kids, and to share life with us. This has been something that we have worked very hard on. Community doesn’t accidentally happen. We have sacrificed a lot to let people in to our marriage and family in really vulnerable ways; but we know it has been one of the most healthy things for our marriage and family. (Psalm 133; Heb. 10:24-25)

9. We are not yes people. Neither of us have ever been very good at agreeing to something if we really don’t agree with it. This could get us into trouble and it has during rebellious seasons, but it has also served to mature us and shape us in to the better parents, lovers, ministers and friends. We respectfully challenge one another in love and trust the Holy Spirit to ultimately change us and make us more like Jesus. (Matt. 7:5)

10. We are in it for the long haul. Amy and I do not even mention the “D” word. There are plenty of hopeless moments in marriage, but we both know that we covenanted with one another and that we are committed to honoring and glorifying God more than being happy. We also are well aware that we married sinners, at we factor that into the whole grace equation. The mystery of glorifying God over seeking our own happiness is that if our chief end is to magnify God in our marriage and family, then we will be the happiest we could ever be.

Thank you Amy for loving me and sticking it out with me so far! And thanks to all of our friends and family who love and support us in this crazy little thing called love! Here’s to the next 13 years!

Pure Sex (part 3)

In this last post, we are going to lay out five steps to sexual freedom that should not be obeyed and followed as a checklist, rather, you should begin to let this change your whole worldview and way of life. Remember, we are not about changing behavior, we need to be changed at the very core of who we are before our behavior will permanently change:

Practical Applications:

Point # 1: You can’t fight sexual sin with religion.
It’s really interesting, that when Jesus was on the earth and He was teaching, He spoke to a religious culture that had a very technical view of what sexual sin was and they had created some categories that basically were loopholes so that they could be sexually immoral, much like us. So Jesus took it right to the mind (or the core of who you are; the seat of your emotions) and said, “I tell you, if anyone looks upon a woman with lustful intent” or “with the desire to lust”, “he’s already committed adultery.”

Sex isn’t just about genitalia and orgasms. It’s not just about being physical with someone else or yourself. It’s about your heart and God’s purposes.So, if in your battle against sexual sin, the passion that you have for Jesus doesn’t become greater than the passion you have to have sex or fulfill your selfish sexual desires, then you’ll always be fighting and never experience victory. Have you ever had a moment like these two men below, when upon encountering the beauty and worth and greatness of who God is, you radically change your surroundings to obtain more of God Himself?

Matthew 13:44-46: 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

You must encounter God in all His might and beauty and grace and splendor. God’s kingdom is the expulsive power over sin because it is a greater affection.

So here’s a typical scenario within the church. A believer comes to me and is broken and hates his sin and says: “I messed up man. I slept with somebody I shouldn’t have,” or “I fell again. I totally looked at porn on the internet and masturbated and I feel sick and guilty about it.” Then they’ll go straight to religion: “So here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m gonna read the Bible ten times a day, and I’m gonna go to every church service I can find in town. I’m gonna put an internet filter on, and I’m gonna not ever look at another woman the rest of my life. I’m gonna make a covenant with my eyes like Job did,” and on and on goes the lists of what they are gonna do (or at least try)!

Now I do agree that those are helpful things, but apart from Jesus, they really won’t make a difference. So when men tell me stories like these, I basically have to say:
“Let’s go ahead and set up the next appointment, because I’m gonna give you three days and then you’re gonna be right back here crying.” … If you struggle with porn and sexual addiction, who hasn’t been that guy?

Point # 2: Sin grows in the dark.
These suicidal and self-destructive tendencies we have to rebel against God and not worship Him, have a habit of growing like fungus when kept in the dark. So just bringing your sin to the light, and by that I mean sharing your sin with the people you need to and confessing your sin to the Lord and being transparent is vitally important.

1 John 1:5-7: 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Confess your sin, repent and turn to Jesus. Get bros to walk with you. Come clean with your pastor, your wife, your friends, and whoever else needs to know. Stop managing your behavior and get your junk out into the light and let Jesus begin to work on your heart. This leads us to the third point.

Point # 3: At the core of sexual sin is a heart that doesn’t trust God.
Sexual sin basically says, “I can’t trust you God to meet my needs. I can’t trust you to provide these needs in the way that you choose, therefore, I’m gonna go outside of your will and provision. You’re just not big enough or good enough to satisfy this part of me. You’re not true to your word God. I can’t trust you to be good. I have these desires and urges in the moment, and I need to go take care of them because I can’t trust you to.”
At the core, this is what a heart that doesn’t trust God says and believes. Instead of worshipping the God who is trustworthy, who knows our every need, you worship sex and the feeling of gratification one gets from it. This is idolatry. You are saying, “I need to worship sex instead of you, God, so that I can fulfill this deep longing in me.”

Point # 4: A heart that doesn’t trust God has an idolatry problem.
Idolatry is the sin behind the sin. For example, you can get someone to stop eating and they’ll start drinking, or they’ll stop drinking and start smoking, or stop smoking, eating, and drinking, and start being proud of their morality and their idol is their obedience.
You can stop looking at porn then lust like crazy over women and treat them in a sinful way. Or you can stop looking at porn and then control relationships in some other self-righteous way in the name of Jesus.

So here’s some helpful insight for you: Good things that get turned into ultimate things are idols. What we don’t want is for you to stop looking at porn because you found another way to satisfy your deep longing. Only God Himself can satisfy the longings of our hearts, even the sexual ones (Psalm 17:15; 63:1-8).

Find out where your insecurity or deep longing comes from and begin giving that to Jesus. For example: You run to porn because you have attachment issues and are afraid to truly be known. So porn is safe to you. You worship porn because it satisfies that deep longing of being accepted without having to expose yourself. At the root of idolatry is a worship problem.

Remember in Genesis where we learned that we were made in the image and likeness of God. This means that in part we were made to worship; and so we ceaselessly pour ourselves out. We give ourselves away – our heart, our mind, our money, our devotion goes somewhere, to someone, to something. Everyone is a worshiper; a slave.

This is the way that God made us and it was a good thing, but we must remember that we were made to pursue God. But because of the fall of man, because of our sin, our worship is now directed toward things or people other than God. The result being that we continue to worship, but we worship wrongly. This means we worshipped our way into sexual sin. If we worshipped our way into sexual sin, then we must worship our way out. Here’s how we can begin to worship our way out.

Point # 5: The good news is, Jesus changes hearts.
If you are able to begin to see that these issues are really heart issues, worship issues, and then understand that the only way to change your heart is only and definitely through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit through the truth and belief of the gospel, then you are on the road to recovery.

Most guys and Christian counselors go straight to behavior modification, and it doesn’t help in the long run. Changing behaviors may work in this world, but they will not stand in eternity. What’s difficult about sexual sin is that it has a unique shame factor to it. It’s just a downward spiral. What happens when you commit sexual sin is you typically withdraw from the things you need the most, namely Jesus, His Word and His people.

Our sin at its core is always an issue of the heart, and the good news is Jesus changes hearts. You can get from one idol to another, but you can’t get from idolatry to freedom unless you meet up with Jesus and begin to worship Him (the pearl of great price). Sexual gratification has your affections and you have to find a greater affection that is more powerful than sex. This is why only Jesus and the power of the indwelling Spirit of God can free you from sexual sin. The only way out of your sex worship is Jesus worship.

We must know and believe the gospel at its core if we are gonna be able to let Jesus free us from our idolatry. God became a man, Jesus. He substituted Himself with you because He is the King and you are not. Jesus died in your place for your sins, and because of His resurrection, He conquers your enemy: Satan, sin, and death. He gives you a reconciled relationship with God so that you will again participate in the love and the joy and the praise and the adoration that the Trinitarian God has within Himself.

To the degree that you believe this and your heart is broken because of what Jesus has done for you, will be the degree by which you have victory over your idols and imprisonment of sexual sin.

What will begin to happen, is you will understand that you are radically accepted by God to the point that when you fall into sin, you won’t punish yourself for days before you run to Jesus and His word. You will get that you don’t have to add to your punishment by not feeling worthy to come to Jesus. Jesus paid it ALL!

Can you add to the atoning sacrifice that Jesus paid on the cross for your sin? The answer is an implied and emphatic NO! Then why do you make yourself suffer and punish yourself when you fall. It’s because you either don’t get the gospel or you don’t believe it. Jesus took it & freed you from having to punish yourself. Jesus paid it ALL!

Now if you get this, you will begin to fall on your face and repent to Jesus before you even choose to sin. This is how we battle sin and walk in victory. Treasure Jesus and the infinitely beautiful and the only worthy King! He is enough!

Closing:
Men, wage war against your sin/idolatry day after day after day. What in your life do you have to keep working on daily or else you’ll lose it (remember, we are not talking about salvation, but freedom): Marriage, jobs, houses, cars, grades, relationships, sports, etc… What are you laboring over more than your relationship and love for God and His word?

You must labor over this and kill the sin by running to Jesus day after day after day and living a life of transparency and repentance. If you stop looking at porn and you don’t treasure Jesus above all else, you will treasure something else above Him and you will still have a really big problem in your life; or worse yet, you might not even truly know the Lord.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is the answer. No other! He is the pearl of great price. He is the treasure in the field that you must sell everything for. May we not take the words of Jesus lightly when He says this: “ 34 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:34-35

Remember, there is a universe of difference between “knowing of God” and “knowing God”. Labor to know God the way you labor to look at porn. Seek His kingdom with the tenacity you seek your own gratification. Then victory will come!

Our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered Satan, sin, and death. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:12-15

Let’s Pray!

Pure Sex (part 2)

Yesterday, I left you contemplating some questions. Today, I want draw your attention to God’s Word and paint for you an original picture of God’s intention for marriage and “pure sex”:

The Bible: Here’s the strange thing, the Bible, the book that guides you (hopefully), is usually regarded as anti-sex and anti-sexual pleasure (or at least barely tolerant of it). But the Bible actually supports this sex and pleasure within the proper structure. The problem is, our view of sexual intimacy has been so jarred by our culture, that we have a hard time seeing any of that in the Bible, and think that our only outlet of “good” and “exciting” sexual pleasures are only found when it’s done in a “sinful” manner. “It’s exciting to look at porn…it’s a rush…it satisfies us!” Let’s take a minute to unpack what the Bible says about sexual pleasure and then we’ll hit five points of application that I think will help you in your battle with sexual sin.

Where did sex originate and what is its purpose?: Sex originated in Genesis so let’s look there to layout a proper biblical view of sex, marriage and relationships, then we’ll tap into what’s holding us back:

1:27: So God created man (generic) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female (specific) he created them.

The Hebrew words for male and female are better translated as “the piercer” and “the pierced”; I’ll let you decide which one means male and female! These words are definite references to the human sex organs. The very next command, God says this:

1:28a: And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”

So procreation is a major purpose of sex and we read in verse 31, that it was very good! Now if you notice at the end of verse 25, all of creation up until that point God said was “good”; but after God made male and female, He stepped back, looked at what He had created and ordained, and said, “Behold, it was “very good”.

Chapter 2 is not another creation account, rather it is a detailed description of the creation of man and woman as it occurred on the 6th day of creation. In Gen. 1:27, marriage was in the presence of God between Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:24-25, the author describes the process of the couple becoming one and how that happens.

Genesis 2:18-25: 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Let’s make some basic observations from these texts:
1. All this was created before the entrance of sin, so sex is a very good thing between a man and a woman whom God has made one (in a covenantal relationship); it’s not sinful.

2. God made a woman to be a helper for the man (not, daddy’s little helper, and not someone to help you get an orgasm) but rather in the same fashion as Psalm 54:4: Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

3. God made one woman for Adam, He didn’t create 30 women and run them by Him like He did the animals and have him pick the one he liked the most. God intends for a man and a woman to have one partner in their life; not multiple. This is why porn is destructive. A man can have thousands of partners who have his heart and now his wife is sharing her husband with many women. No wonder marriages suck!

4. This leads us to our fourth point, God intended that man’s standard of beauty be the woman that he marries. Before you get married, you need to pray about who it is that God wants you to marry and it better not be only based on how she looks, because if it is, she will change after children and age and you will want to find someone else who looks like the woman you married earlier.

So the man’s standard of physical beauty was meant to be his wife and change as his wife changes. If your wife is short, you like short. If your wife is large, that means you like large. You may say, “what if she used to be skinny?” “then you don’t like skinny right now!” Got it!! Be content with what you have. Godliness plus contentment equals great gain Paul says. Do you have entitlement issues? Do you think you deserve certain things in life? Check your heart on this one.

5. God created a man and a woman. Two different genders with two separate parts. God has always intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman. God did not create another man for Adam and then a woman and give Adam the choice. If that was the way God intended things to be, then it was no fair for Adam. But that’s not how it was intended to be. Any kind of sexual relations outside of a covenantal marriage between a man and a woman is destructive and wicked.

6. Finally, a man was meant to leave his mother and his father and become one with his wife and hold fast to her. That means he moves out of his parents home and stops being a mama’s boy. He grows up. He acts like a man and leads, loves and protects her; and the woman expects him to. The two become one and share life together unlike any other relationship in their lives. Are you sharing life with your wife, or are you hiding things in your life with her? Are you holding fast to her, or your own selfish sexual desires?

We observed all that to convince you that God created sex and meant for it for good, very good! He wants you to enjoy your wife, deeply and intimately, and her you. He wants you make each other feel secure with sex. He wants to take away other temptations with sex with your spouse. He wants sex with your spouse to be a reflection of His great beauty and enjoyment.

But any sexual pleasure outside of the covenantal context of marriage between a man and a woman is working towards destruction and will never give you the desired result you are looking for in your sin and lack of self control and fear of God. God created sex. Play by His rules or you will pay. You will be held accountable and you’ll never find what you want.

Jeremiah 2:13: “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the
fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that
can hold no water.”

Sexual sin is drinking water from another well that you dug yourself instead of drinking water from the source of purified water; if you do that you’ll get sick because the water is not clean. Some of you will say, so, but it’s still water, what’s the difference. Well, you tell me, is there ever a problem with getting something that you like from a different source. Say, peanuts, I love peanuts, but I would never eat peanuts from a turd when I could just go to the store and get them in a nice, clean, new bag, or even in a Snickers. Peanuts were not meant to be eaten from turds. They were meant to be eaten only once. You tracking with me?

Tomorrow we will unpack five practical ways that you can break the stronghold of sexual immorality in your life.