For those of us that have been following Christ we should seek to know the Word, and strive to share the truth in love. Though this can be hard, we are called to share it and to not be an offense because the gospel is offense. Telling someone or a group of people that what they are doing or saying is wrong according to the Word of God is no easy task and it is to be done with the utmost care and love both outside the church and in the church (the body of Christ). The reality, you are likely going to upset people, they are likely to be offended, and something I have experienced in the past, they may resort to name calling and subtle yet evident character bashing. These are not uncommon responses. The key in these situations is to not allow your emotions to control or dictate your response. If this is happening on social media or email it is easy for people to assume and apply tone, motive and emotion to what they are reading, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. We are all guilty of this and need to fight against the urge. It is important, especially when we disagree with someone that we demonstrate a Philippians 4:8 mindset and approach, "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." It is vital that we think on what is true and assume the best of someone rather than ascribing motive or intent to them.
In the reckless love blog I took an extreme amount of care in not pretending to know the authors motives or bashing them as brothers in Christ. I took great care in making sure that the blog was simply dealing with the theology presented in the song as well as in their descriptions as to why they went with the word reckless. The unfortunate piece in this is that people took offense and assumed I was bashing the authors, this couldn't have been further from the truth. To ensure this I had the blog proof read and had a couple of people make sure that I was clearly dealing with the theology and not attacking the men. This is very important in sharing hard truths with people. We have a tendency to take things personal, and we hate to admit we might be wrong about something, so we seek to defend our stance rather than being teachable and humbling ourselves. It is very important in sharing hard truth that you check yourself first, you examine your motives, and most importantly, you must make sure your claims are true. In sharing hard truth, especially with people involved, you need to make sure you are not bearing false witness and that what you are saying is in complete alignment with the Word of God. It is vital that you make sure that you are teachable, that you are willing to concede if you are incorrect, and that you are willing to adjust if you are wrong, I can not stress this part enough, it is so very important!! When we find ourselves being argumentative it should be a sign that we are more concerned with proving our point and saving face. When we are allowing the Spirit of God to move, and we are submitted to God and His Word, we will operate in the fruits of the Spirit and point to Jesus. It is so essential for us as believers to be about pointing to Jesus and not our point. When you are trying to prove your point you are going to do so no matter the cost, you will shut down any possibility you may be wrong and you will make all sorts of assumptions about the person or people telling you otherwise. When being led by the Spirit of God, you will seek to honor others, hear them out, and put what they are saying up against the Word of God, this will determine if what they are saying is true or not and we need to be praying that God make it clear. Again, we all need to be teachable realizing we don't know everything and that maybe our brothers and sisters have something of value to add to the conversation.
Because it is seemingly so complicated to share hard truth as it pertains to the Word of God people either shy away from it or go to the other extreme and become angry and over zealous. There is compromise on both sides. One lands itself close to what I call graceism (all grace, no obedience or change required, confrontation free), and the other legalism (no grace, all law and judgement). Both of these in there extreme are incorrect according to the Scripture. Believe it or not, the line is smack dab in the middle. When we realize that we are to hold each other accountable and to confront fellow believers concerning sin, and doctrinal matters, we must also realize that we are to do so graciously and in love. Again, you are going to upset or offend someone, but it should be the Word that divides, not you or I. Again, the gospel, the Word of God is offensive to people and this is why we are not to be an offense. Stand firm on the truth, hide behind God's Word and allow Him to speak.
"Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left..." Joshua 23:6
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" Galatians 1:6-8
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I spent a long time this week evaluating things after posting the reckless love blog due to the comments and various conversations. I spent time in prayer, in the Word, in conversation, more prayer, more study and more conversations. It was a draining few days for sure but the more I would study, pray, and talk with people the more energized and excited I would get. I was very blessed and encouraged by many people who came alongside me and held up my arms in this. God used the blog and the conversations in my life (and others it would seem) as an opportunity for growth and deeper dependence on Him. Praise God!
What has been your experience when sharing hard truths concerning God and what His Word has to say? I would love to continue the conversation, and as always, lets keep things Christ-Centered as we seek to bring glory and honor to God in all that we do!! God Bless!!
I have heard it said that a person has 2 worldviews, the one they say they hold, and the one they live out. It is so much easier for us to say we believe something than it is for us to actually live that belief out. I have said it often when I preach but it is one of the most convicting thoughts to me, and it is simply that your life will reflect what you truly believe. If we are being honest with ourselves, our lives don't always reflect what we say we believe. For me it is easier to say I trust God than it is to live that out when I am on an airplane as my fear of heights seems to over ride my trust. Even deeper still, it's not the flying that is the issue, it's lack of control, it's the "what if the plane crashes" thoughts, it unfortunately boils down to a fear of death. This is a bit of a conundrum for me as a believer in Jesus, wouldn't you agree? However, before you cast your stones at me please take a minute to examine your own life. What fears do you have? Maybe it's of spiders, or public speaking, or you are constantly worried about your children, etc... It is super easy for us to point fingers, it is also super easy to say we aren't afraid of things. The truth comes out when we are in situations that test that. I have gone back and forth with my fear of heights, of crossing high bridges, or of flying, and it keeps coming back to a lack of trust in God and belief that He is in control of my life and my death.
If it is true that everyone has 2 worldviews then we have an interesting conundrum to sort out as Christians. See it is easy to say you’re a Christian, but our lives will always reflect what we truly believe. I hope this convicts you as much as is does me… When I look at my life, I have to ask the question, am I worshiping God by how I am living? Sadly, more often than not, I find myself answering that question with a no. If I am being honest, when I examine my life I see disconnects all over. I examine my Word life, what I mean here is my quiet time of reading the Bible, my Word life, and I find that it isn’t as consistent as it needs to be, I have the weird gifting of memorization and a lot of time I use that gift to justify not studying or simply reading as much as a should because I can recall sections of Scripture, maybe not word for word but for sure the general idea/concept being presented. This is both a blessing and a curse for me, but when I look at giving God my undivided attention in His word, I am lacking. I examine my Prayer life, am I praying as I should? How often do you tell someone you are going to pray for them and then it becomes and after thought, or just simply praising God through prayer, or most importantly, the listening part of prayer… I examine my Service life, not necessarily what and how much I am doing but why am I doing what I’m doing, what is the heart behind my service, is it to bring glory to God or is it just to get it done or is it to get something out of it for my benefit? I examine my Home life, I look at how I am leading family because the way I see it as a husband and a father you are always leading the question is where. I also examine my Work life and my Evangelism life, and Fellowship and Community life & I examine my Discipleship life, my Faith life, etc... Please note that when I say I examine my life in these areas I am referring more to my heart than I am the tasks though the tasks have their importance and place.
Bottom line, I examine my life but I broke it down here on purpose, I think examining these things in a whole and individually begins to help us see how the worldview we say we have translates to the worldview we live out. We are to worship God with our lives, and our lives will reflect what we truly believe.
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:1-2
In the current climate of our country I have been praying, reading, and seeking my place in it all as a Christian. With all the conversation about rights, freedoms, guns, privacy, the president, and the like, there are a lot of things to sort out. It seems as though there is a drive and push for us as the body of Christ to separate our life in Christ from our life as an American. From my perspective this is super problematic. Is it possible that we have lost our focus? As Christians, our sole purpose is to bring glory to God with our lives. When we begin to put our rights or our earthly freedoms before God or when we find ourselves fighting for our rights and earthly freedoms (sometimes no matter the cost), it would seem that our priorities might be out of order. We are called to be representatives of Jesus Christ, and as a result, how we live matters. The things we say and do matter as we are to represent Jesus in the best possible light. When we focus so intensely on our earthly freedoms and comforts we may start to panic, or start to react poorly, or become so caught up that we forget we are representing Jesus to those that we think are trying to change or remove those freedoms from us. "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."Colossians 3:17
This is also a matter of trust. Do we trust God regardless of the outcome? Do we trust God even in the midst of what may result in hardship? Do we trust God even though evil may seem to be prevailing?
The challenge for us as believers is to put Jesus first in all circumstances and situations. If you don't agree with someone it is okay to disagree, how you disagree maters greatly. Disagree in love. As a believer in Jesus you are commanded by God to love others, and Jesus made it clear that this includes your enemies.
"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him." Colossians 3:1-10
Want to continue the conversation? Leave me a comment, I would love to chat more about it!
Pornography addiction is no small thing, and for many men and women the struggle is real. Pornography addiction can leave a person feeling broken, desperate, isolated and simply put, imprisoned. For those struggling with this addiction they are constantly being told that there is hope and that freedom available but they never seem to be able experience it and as a result they feel even worse. The truth of the matter though is that there is in fact hope, there is a way to experience freedom from this bondage. I started watching pornography when I was 9 years old, I always knew that it was something I shouldn't be watching but I began to crave it. By the time I was a teenager I was a full blown porn addict, and I was also beginning to have actual sexual experiences which heightened the watching of porn. This carried well into my adult life. I came to Christ when I was 27, I had many addictions prior to my turning to Jesus from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, to sex and pornography, and when I came to Christ, 4 of those things immediately dealt with. I stopped smoking, doing drugs, drinking, and I stopped engaging in sexual activity. For some reason the one that stuck around was the pornography. It had become a way of life for me, it was normal and I couldn't stop watching it. In the beginning of my walk I would seek to hide it as I felt ashamed but then in reading the Gospel of John I came across John 3 verses 20 and 21 which state "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” These verses shook me, I had to ask myself the question, "am I practicing the truth and coming to the Light or am I hiding my sin?" Clearly I was hiding my sin. This convicted me and I began to reach out. I kept my circle tight but I made sure that I had a couple guys I could share my struggle with, and this began the process of me getting the help I needed to walk in the freedom that Christ offers.
Lets get into some practical steps on how to deal with pornography addiction. (Please note that though they aren't directly listed in the steps below, fervent prayer and Bible study are a must in and through this process.) (Also, this blog will be a little longer than normal and that's okay!)
Step 1, Admit you have an issue and need help. This might seem obvious but pride can be a beast and a lot of times we think we can handle these issues on our own. Porn addiction is not an issue that you can handle by yourself, it will require the help of the Holy Spirit and the help of the body of Christ. This is so vital to beating this addiction!
Step 2. Have a couple people that you can openly talk to about your struggles, your failures and your successes. There are a few things to draw out here that are important to mention. Fist, again, our pride can be a beast. If we have those people in our life we need to make sure we exercise the option to contact them and not only contact them but contact them before and not after a failure. This point is so important because it is often the hardest. We get embarrassed or we think they will be mad at us for struggling, or we just messaged them a couple of hours ago, or the day before etc... The enemy is crafty in these moments and our flesh starts to take over, we need to get out ahead of things before they get out of hand (and if we are honest they can get out of hand quickly). You need to have people in your life that will walk through this with you and that you can be open and honest with. I tell my friends that I am accountability partners for that even if I don't pick up leave a message or text me, I will respond and know that I will ask so they will have to answer, I tell them that I expect honesty as that is what they will get from me, and I want them to walk in the victory they have in Christ.
Step 3, Have an escape plan. This follows step 2 as they go hand in hand. This plan should be known by your accountability partners as they are a key part of the plan and holding you to the plan laid out. This plan should include contacting your accountability partners, prayer, Bible reading (specific Scriptures that you have found powerful or remind you of Gods goodness), something or a series of somethings you can do instead (this is where having a hobby is huge, for me it is writing or making music, this helps me focus on something different and is very helpful). If you are alone, sometimes you might have to leave the house and go somewhere public or just get in your car, crank some worship music (or just Christian music in general) and just drive. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a great verse to memorize for those that struggle with lust or pornography "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." This is a fantastic verse to remember, it's one of those verses that removes our excuses. Do we believe and trust that God is faithful and that He will show us a way out so that we can endure the temptation(s) before us? Think of it this way, if you were in a burning building you would do anything and everything to get out, to save your life. You wouldn't just sit in the middle of a room and say "well the building is burning so I guess I am just going to sit here and die." You would fight for your life. I would like to develop this illustration a bit. Let's say that the fire represents temptation and allowing it to consume you would represent you sinning. God gives us an ax in one of those glass cases that says "break glass in the event of an emergency." Jesus is always our exit, we need to choose Him rather than sit in the temptation, allow it to consume us and rebel against Him. Jesus died so we may have life, in Him we have victory over sin and death, we fight for our life by choosing Jesus in the moments when we feel the weakest. This brings me to step 4.
Step 4, Submit to resist. James 4:7 states "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." We have a tendency to read a verse like this and think we resist by fighting and by fighting I mean take things on in our own strength or flesh, when we do this we fail because we can only fight the temptation for so long, we can only resist for so long, eventually we give in. Here is the thing, when we submit to God we are resisting the devil, we are choosing Jesus over sin. So how does this play out in reality, how do we submit to God and resist the devil in real time, we do so by implementing steps 1-3. We get serious about walking in righteousness, we take God serious, we pray, we begin to practice holding our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, we call or text our accountability partners, we implement our escape plan, we get out of the building before the fire consumes us.
Something very important to remember is that we are all in process. When we put our faith in Jesus we begin the process of learning to be more like Him, we are being molded, and shaped into Christ-likeness. Something equally important for us to remember is that we are not hide behind the process, meaning, we can't settle for our sin or justify our sin, we need to be discontent with our sin and long to be freed from those things that hold us in bondage, we should be growing!
One final thing to wrap this all up. The thing that was a game changer for me was when one of my accountability partners, best friends, and brothers in Christ shared something so simple yet so profound. I want to bring you to the account of Esau and him trading away his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau traded everything, he traded his blessing, all for a bowl of soup. We read in Hebrews 12 verses 16 and 17 "that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears." What my buddy said next was a major eye opener for me, lets look at pornography as a bowl of soup. Are you willing to trade everything, to trade away your blessings for a bowl of soup? I am not speaking about matters of salvation, however, we are looking at the fact that God isn't going to be mocked, He isn't okay with sin in the life of a believer. Everything you have is a blessing, your very life is a blessing, you might have a family, you might be a pastor or a part of a ministry, all of that can be gone in the blink of an eye. Pornography in general has a crazy destructive ability, it steals your joy, it distorts your view of others, it destroys families, it ruins future relationships, it simply wrecks things. For me, this was huge, and so when I am faced with temptation, I say "no soup for me", this is the first step in my escape plan, it reminds me that i don't want to trade everything for this temporary moment of sin against God. God has provided me, and I'm sure you, with more than we deserve, He has done so much for us and it is time we take Him serious and take Him at His word. He is in fact faithful to provide a way out, the question is will we take the exit.
This blog is by no means extensive, there is so much more conversation to have, with that, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what works for you, let us know how we can pray for you specifically. If you are struggling with this issue we would love to help so please don't hesitate to email us or if your comfortable leave a comment. Thank you so much for your time in reading this and we hope you found it worth your time and helpful. God bless!!
The Pharisee card, I have seen it used a lot these days and it is breaking my heart. Unfortunately, most of the time the card is being played it is played as sort of a Christian trump card intended to discredit the person it is being played against, this can be very problematic. We see the Pharisee card being played in conversations that challenge our previous held beliefs or ideas, and instead of engaging in Christ honoring conversation we assume the person is being Pharisaical and we dismiss them as not having anything to offer us, so we shut them down by calling them Pharisees or Religious Leaders. I want to look at the Pharisees for a minute and dive into how they were responding to Jesus and His disciples. As a bit of a disclaimer, this may be hard to swallow because it should challenge us to look at how we respond to people when they challenge the things we believe.
Lets state the obvious first, the Pharisees were self-righteous hypocrites. Sadly, this is where we tend to stop and often why we use the Pharisee card out of context and incorrectly, and we certainly don't apply the card to ourselves because we are not self-righteous hypocrites (please insert any level of sarcasm you see fit). There is so much more to this picture than meets the eye, and this is where we can find our self acting like the Pharisees if we are not careful. The Pharisees refused to listen to the truth of God's Word, they refused to admit that they might not have it all figured out, they refused to examine the claims of Jesus, the figured they had all the answers and no one could tell them otherwise. With that, when Jesus brought them a truth claim about Himself or the Scripture they rejected it immediately, they had already come to the conclusion that they were right and He was wrong. This is where we can be much like the Pharisees. When a brother or sister brings something to us or challenges something said or that we have held on to as a belief, instead of examining if what they are saying is true, we reject their claims, and we seek to discredit them, this is exactly what the Pharisees did. We as people have a problem when the facts don't align with our previously held beliefs and with that, we have a couple of options. We can either approach the topic presented with an open mind and an open Bible examining the claim(s) that is being made, or we can cling to our presuppositions and assume the person is wrong and dismiss what they are saying. In my mind, the first approach is the wise approach and the more Biblical approach. (Now, there are certain doctrines that you are going to rightly cling to, for example; Salvation through faith alone, the person of Christ (the hypostatic union (two complete natures, Jesus was fully human and fully God during His time on earth), and others.)
We look an awful lot like the Pharisees when refuse to examine a claim being brought to our attention. Even if the person is way out of bounds in their thinking, we should still be willing to hear them out, take the time to examine the Biblical reality of the claim and have a conversation. The problem is that that option is harder, longer, and requires our attention and time, it is way easier for us to dismiss things. I am reminded of a time when I was young in my faith and a buddy of mine whom I had come to trust had shared that the music I was listening to was problematic and certainly didn't glorify God. My initial response wasn't the kindest, I thought in my mind that they were some religious nut and I said "music is just art, it's fine for me to listen to these things." That friend shared a series called "They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll" by Good Fight Ministries with me, and I didn't want to watch it. I thought it was just going to be some over the top, crazy religious stuff that was seeking to condem me for my listening habits. However, because I had come to know this brother in Christ I chose to watch it. The video series was 10 hours long and after the first half of video 1 I was wrecked, I was in tears and I realized I was wrong, God did a mighty work. Later that week I gathered up all my music and I threw it in the dumpster, it took everything for me not to jump in and fish it all out but I knew that God had made it clear that it needed to go. My point is this, my previously held belief was that my music was fine, but in reality, it wasn't and through careful examination of my buddies claim according the to the Word of God I saw that I was wrong. I could have fought for what I thought was right, I could have called him a Pharisee, I could have dismissed him or sought to discredit him but instead I reluctantly listened, and examined the claim and my life changed as a result.
One of the hardest things for us to do as humans is to admit when we are wrong, or to entertain the possibility we could be wrong or even deceived.
We need to be teachable and realize we aren't always right, and that it is possible that we can be deceived and go around thinking we are right when we are in fact wrong. It is important for us to study, to examine the evidence and when we are wrong, we need to adjust. Sadly, with the way the Pharisee card is being used today, Jesus, the disciples and especially Paul would be likely to be called Pharisees, that should trouble us and shake us awake.
The final thing I will mention about the Pharisees is not an item that is spoke about much but it is so important!! The Pharisees were heretics, they were false teachers, this also plays greatly into their self-righteousness and rejection of the Truth. The Pharisees were more concerned with what the Tradition of the Elders taught then they were what the Word of God taught. They were more concerned with what the Talmud had to say then the Word, they were teaching and holding people to extra-Biblical material, that is not okay. I wont spend much time here but just know it is important and maybe do some study on it, you might be surprised what you find.
The bottom line is this, before you play the Pharisee card examine your heart, examine your thoughts, examine the claims, and make sure you are properly using the card. There are for sure times when playing the Pharisee card makes sense, however it is not as often as you think and unfortunately we have abused it's usage. May we be careful to examine what is being said by our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we don't agree with them we need to have the conversation in love, not ascribe motive or intention to them, and always represent Jesus in all situations, even the ones where it makes sense to play the card.
We would love to hear from you about this, please leave a comment and continue the conversation, and as always lets keep the conversation Christ-centered and Christ-like. Thank you so much for taking the time!!