Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Battle For a Man's Heart

Pornography is a big problem amongst Christian people today. The internet makes it easy to access without anyone knowing about it. I read the other day that there are about five porn websites for every other website. Because it uses the drive God created within us, we are all tempted to misuse His gift of sexuality.

I found a pair of articles that have brought a whole new perspective to me on the battle of pornography. John Thomas of argues that pornography is a weapon of the enemy to destroy a man's masculine heart. To keep men from living effectively for God. I encourage all men who desire to live for God to read these articles even if you are not struggling with pornography.

Boundless Answers: Alternatives to Porn, Part 1
Boundless Answers: Alternatives to Porn, Part 2

If you are losing the battle to pornography in your life, I encourage you to check out Setting Captives Free.

Monday, May 22, 2006


"God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment." -Blaise Pascal, Pensees (New York: Dutton 1958) p. 58

More and more I see my problem is not what I haven't learned yet, but rather the lies I have learned all too well. That God is obsessed with sin is one of the lies I have learned quite well. Sexual misconduct, drinking, and smoking He especially delights in. Once caught in sin, I grovel hoping to find something to trade with God. Something He'll find to appease Him enough to forgive me. It's hard to find something God enjoys more than a good sin to obsess over.

The truth is God doesn't obsess over sin. Rather, He obsesses over sinners. It's His desire to rescue the sinner from sin, not destroy the sinner along with his sin. 2 Cor. 5:19 says, "God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins."* 1 John 1:9 says, "If we admit our sins - make a clean breast of them - he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing."** The Bible is full of statements declaring God's desire to forgive sinners. Like the father in the story Jesus told of the rebellious son, God is watching and waiting for the sinner to come home so He can lavish His love on him. The question I have to ask myself is, how long will I wait to go home?

*New Century Version
**The Message

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What More?

A man desires to plant a vineyard. Being an intelligent man, he searches for the best ground for his vineyard. After purchasing the property, he goes to work. Tilling, planting, watering, weeding. He spares no expense or labor so he will get the best grapes possible. The work is done and the grapes are ready. He finds himself salivating as he picks the grape, anticipating it's sweetness. Bitterness shocks his tastebuds, numbing his tongue. Gagging and coughing he spits the fruit out. What has happened? Vine after vine reveal sour grapes. What more could he have done to produce good grapes?

This story told by the prophet Isaiah illustrates what God has done for me. He has done everything to restore our broken relationship. Even sending His Son Jesus to take my place in dying the death I deserve. After all of this, I find that I still hesitate to trust Him completely. I still question whether He loves me. In the midst of my doubts and questions, Isaiah asks me, "What more can he do?"

Monday, May 01, 2006

Further Along the Valley of the Shadow

Yesterday I shared a state of mind that I have been wrestling with for a few weeks. My question for today is, what is the battle I am fighting? Is it the devil himself attacking me, trying to destroy me? Perhaps it is one of his henchmen. A scene from Frank Peretti's book This Present Darkness being played out in my life, demons and angels fighting for influence over my mind. Looking at my actions, I am afraid I have been listening to the wrong voice. Fortunately, the answer is in the book. I need to pray. That's where the angels get their strength, right? If I pray for my angels, they will be strong enough to win, they will lose me from my chains of depression and everything will be right.

But is this my battle? I believe there is a battle between the spiritual forces of heaven and earth. Where, then, is my battle field? My heart, mind and soul. I am fighting to hold on to the One who can save me. The truth is I am not strong enough to defeat Satan or any of his minions. Good news. I don't have to be. Satan is already defeated. Defeated by Jesus at the cross.

So whose side am I going to be on? Obviously, I want to be on Jesus' side. I sometimes get caught up in the little bit I can see. Walking in the valley of the shadow, I see a lot of darkness and not much light. After all, Jesus never said following Him would be easy. In fact, He promised it would be hard. But He hasn't left us to face the difficulty alone. In Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) God says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

I painted yesterday's bleak, dark picture on purpose. I wanted to express the view from the window of my soul. I want to be real with people, not just putting on a happy face so as not to upset anybody. I hope the gleam of light in my writing was not missed. The sliver of hope. That even in my darkest hour, even when I felt like giving up, I was holding on to the promise God made. Yesterday's expression broke a dam in my soul. It showed me how much I really needed to connect with God--to get a reality check. It wasn't easy to get through my pain and despair so I could feel His presence. The battle was worth fighting. Once again, God proved that He will not leave me.

The Valley of the Shadow

It has been three weeks since my last post. I have been really struggling during this time. When I'm around people, I forget about my struggles and enjoy the company. People, like aspirin, kill the pain so I forget anything is wrong. But, when I return to my lonely apartment, the medicine wears off and I am faced with the reality of a hearting soul. What do I do? I find other pain killers. Instead of facing the problems, I go after the symptoms. The longer I continue killing the pain, the more the wound festers.

Why am I so afraid to treat the problem? Fix the problem, the symptoms go away and life is better, right? I find myself staring at a rope bridge spanning a canyon over a raging river. Fear clutches my mind and soul leaving me paralyzed. I know I need to cross. But all I can see is the bridge swaying in the wind. The missing boards make me wonder which of the others are the next to go. I don't want to fall.

I am afraid of reality, so I escape to a fantasy world. A world in which everything goes my way. A world where there is no pain. Maybe something goes wrong once in a while, but it is something I can handle. I never accomplish anything. I am passified. Entertained. After a while, I find myself... bored.

Now I am back to the real world. Do I have what it takes? I'm afraid I don't. In the real world, there is no bridge. In the real world I face people who I might disappoint. Others who I might hurt. Dreams I might not catch if I chase them. I could be hurt by people who get close to me.

All these things have happened before, leaving me cut to the core of my soul. I wonder, was it worth it? If the answer is no, I am left with two options. Spend the rest of my time here on earth existing. Not alive but not dead. Or, kill myself now and spare myself the trouble. Neither of these options have any appeal to me.

Truth is, I want to live. I want to make a difference. To have confidence in who I am and why I'm here. It is a dream I'm afraid is too good to be true. Why would anybody waste his time with me? I'm nobody. I have no higher education, no degree. I have no accomplishments. I have wasted my opportunities.

I would like to wrap this up with a nice bit of encouragment telling how I found enlightenment and have found my way out of this funk. I would like to say I'm back to my old self and the future looks bright and I am full of hope. Right now I feel like a failure. I know my perspective is totally selfish. I know there are a lot of others who face harder lives than I. Somehow, this perspective leaves me looking even more pitiful.

This is partly why I have not written. I have been hurt, frustrated and angy. I have nothing to say to encourage. I have no bit of wisdom to share. I am counting on my belief in God to come through for me. That He won't leave me or forsake me, like Hebrews 13:5 says. I am banking on Romans 8:32 that says, "Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son—will he not also freely give us all things?" (TEV)

Dear Lord,
I don't know what to do. I can't see You and this is scary to me. I want to know You are here and that You are caring for me. I look around and I see people who shun You and they look so happy. I have desired to live for You, yet it seems I have not been rewarded but punished. Help me to see the truth. I want to really live.