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Nothing Shocking

To whom it may concern:

Not everyone grew up listening to Janes Addiction…”Who is that,” you might be asking! But enough Southern Cal music culture (circa 1989) references. But what I cannot understand is when Christian writers/speakers use the word “shocking” to describe the sexual behavior of conservative leaders, Pastors, or laypeople. It is really shocking that they might desire to view pornography to you? Does it shock you to know that there are human beings that have faith in Jesus, yet also desire to act in non-Christian sexual ways? If so, we just can’t seem to figure out what Bible you are reading!

The Bible makes it clear that we are incapable of following a perfect God perfectly. Can you? Yet this is the standard to be with a Holy God. “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Some think they do this…kind of. But if we take a spectrum and say, Jesus, and his perfection is at 100; where do you think you are on the spectrum? 50? 70? Just thinking you are on the spectrum is probably a sure sign of hell for you. Do you really think you are close to Jesus in your thoughts and actions? Ever heard of the rich young ruler? He thought he was.

If we happen to make it on the spectrum at all, we couldn’t even boast we’d made it, for it was Him all along working in us to will and do according to His good pleasure. We are working, but His grace all the more. So thinking your on the spectrum is a sure way of admitting you are not on it at all! If you and I were on the spectrum, we wouldn’t have a inclination that we were. It just would be. A tax collector went up to the temple to pray…He stood afar off and felt ashamed to even pray to God. Yet he was the one in the right. The religious man stood in the temple area and thanked God for his good behavior. His righteousness. His holiness. Sound familiar? The tax collector had no clue he was in the right with God. He just was.

The Bible also tells us in detail of the men of faith (Hebrews 11) that struggled mightily with there sexual conduct. These are the people we teach little kids about in Sunday school. “The sword of Gideon!” Yet Gideon was a polygamist and had many concubines. Both would be considered quite wrong for a Pastor today.

The Bible tells us that the greatest missionary(Paul) struggled with lust/covetousness, and by the end of his life he called himself, “the chief of sinners.” It seems the more he aged, the more he realized the greatness of sin within his members. Charles H. Spurgeon understood this:
“I believe a Christian on his death-bed will more bitterly repent than ever he did before. It is a thing to be done all your life long. Sinning and repenting—sinning and repenting, make up a Christian’s life. Repenting and believing in Jesus—repenting and believing in Jesus, make up the consummation of his happiness. You must not expect that you will be perfect in “repentance” before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. “Repentance” is a grace. “

The Bible also tells in sexually graphic detail of the spiritual departure from the worship of Yahweh by the Israelite’s. The book of Ezekiel and Hosea are great books on this subject. But be warned, they are graphic and Ezekiel is even considered pornographic in some circles. (Yes, there are those that believe the Bible is very erotic should be banned.)

The Bible also has in it erotic poetry which describes the passionate desires and behaviors of lovers. Yet the one who wrote it could not contain his lust for many other women. The Song of Solomon is the ideal for mankind, but certainly was and is not the real. Most human beings are like Solomon in that they have had sexual thoughts about more than one person during there life.

The Bible also has the most highest of moral standards. Why? Because it is written by men, moved by the “holy” Spirit. Can you do them perfectly? For instance the word fornication occurs in only four classical authors in the Greek and Roman era, “by contrast the word occurs nearly for hundred times in Jewish and Christian literature before 200 C.E. and over eighteen hundred times between 200 and 600 C.E.” (Footnote 1). I think we get the picture that sexual conduct (holiness) is serious to God. He demands perfection in our sexuality, sex and sensuality. Have you achieved this?

The ramifications of those in the Christian community that consistently use the old paradigm of being shocked are living in a world that does not exist, and quite frankly, never has sense the garden. Sex and sexual behavior of all kinds has always existed. Firm Monogamy has not been the standard or norm of human sexual history. Sexual variety has been the norm for human beings. Most people have had more than one sexual partner in there lifetime. To be shocked that people of all ages like to view sexual images is actually shocking! We have always been into images whether on walls or on a computer screen. Throughout history men have used women for sex, as concubines, slaves, harems, prostitutes, mistresses, call girls, escorts. Are you shocked by this?

Did you expect the Christian to not be tempted or tried? Do you expect them not to give in? Do you expect them to be different from those in the scriptures themselves? Are we so blind as to not see our own personal sexual failures? Are you also shocked by how many large people there are in Church or at the pulpit? Are you shocked by how much pride Pastors and Leaders have? There we are like the rich young ruler…sharing with Christ that we able to keep the law again? Are you shocked that Pastors are learning to crucify the flesh as well? Or are they suppose to already have that down like you do?

The ramifications of this old paradigm is to keep the Church perpetually in panic over sex; desires, wishes and wants; or even thoughts. It makes counseling people unbearable as know-one knows how to discuss our sexualized culture without being fearful, offended or afraid God will send them to hell; or already has. This paradigm, as practiced by the Pharisees, keeps people who do not struggle (or think they struggle) in control of those that do. They might struggle in other things, but at least they don’t (or so they think) in sexual conduct. They are “pure.” This is a extremely saddened paradigm that continues to rule. But it is perpetuated over and over again. It is a part of our corruption.

Speaking to Israel, the Apostle says,”The Lord is blasphemed because of you!” Have we ever thought that maybe this could be the Churches fate as well as Israel? Are we any better? Would we not too Crucify the Lord of Glory? Will the Church not fall away as well?

Why can we not share the highest of moral code, and have the wherewithal to admit we cannot not achieve this without divine intervention of the most serious in nature. We need to die. Literally. But until then, we will be having to renew our minds to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ, over and over and over again. As Spurgeon said, “sin-repent, sin-repent…” May God send the helper to help us.

There is a misinterpretation of Jesus teachings that is happening again. Peter and I (Beau) are working through this in our discussions. Stay tuned to our Better Pleasure Podcast as we no doubt will hope to be discussing this misinterpretation and it’s ramifications.

May God help us all. The shocking thing…really…is that God has shown us his love and commitment to us in Christ. Without Jesus, all hope to commune with the Almighty is lost.


“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27

  • Footnote 1 – Harper: Porneia – The Making of a Christian Sexual Norm

The “Old Ways,” Are actually New Ways?

By: B.J. Ouellette

What is called traditional or old ways, when it comes to the sexual conduct, rules, and formats are not really old or traditional at all. What is really old is what in today’s culture is considered new! It’s actually quite the opposite of what we have been told over and over again. Have you ever thought about that? Don’t believe the hype. Read Sex In History by Reay Tannahill or any book on the history of Sex at all for that matter and you will come to find out that the sexual ways of humans have been normally non “traditional.”

When we use the term traditional or old ways, we are, more than not, referring to a monogamy format in relationship (Leave It To Beaver like). But not just monogamy, but the belief in strict monogamy. What I mean by strict monogamy is one man and one woman staying together without sexual relations with any other human being as long as they both shall be alive on this planet. But is this the norm?

For instance…in the ancient middle eastern cultures men had many sexual partners. Lamech is recorded of having multiple wives very early on in the history of mankind according to the Bible. And after the fall of Adam and Eve (no not the porn company Adam & Eve), strict monogamy was never the norm. In the Bible it is clear that the norm was anything but. And if monogamy was adhered to, the kind of patriarchy that was in effect (or happening) meant men did divorce their wife for practically any reason. Divorce breaks strict monogamy. If you have been divorced, you might have been in strict monogamy, but though you might be in another monogamous marriage, the first is broken. Strict monogamy is one man and one woman for life. The end. To say that the Jews followed strict monogamy is like saying people drive the posted speed limit. Liberties were taken. So much so that by the time Jesus is in dialog with the religious leaders of his day, he has to explain to them that from the creation of mankind, divorce was not a part of what was called “good.” Divorce is iniquity; a bending of what was straight.

In ancient eastern culture sexual ideas revolved around their ideas of enlightenment, like Tao. “If in one night he can have intercourse with more than ten women it is best,” (Sex In History, Tannahill, pg. 164). Sex was a exchange of not just a physical pleasure but a energy transaction. This is not strict monogamy.

In ancient greece, young boys were often used as sexual partners for men of power. “The bloom of a twelve-year old boy, ” said Straton, “is desirable, but at thirteen he is much more delightful,” (Sex IN History, Tannahill, pg. 85). Another telling quote is; “We have hetairai for our pleasure, concubines for our daily needs, and wives to give us legitimate children and look after the housekeeping.”

There is also the famous lustful behavior of the Greek pantheons. Cronus the god of earth and sea cut off the testicles of his own father and threw them into the sea! His father’s seamen gave birth to Aphrodite! As the gods are, so are the heroes of Greek myth. Heracles was said to have 5 virgins in one night!

There have always been many kinds of sexual relationships defined in our world: Concubines, prostitutes, escorts, mistress etc…All had different roles in the lives of men. And there were few cultures where women had the sexual freedom to enjoy their own desires (See Wednesday Martin’s book, Untrue).

We read a good short paragraph on wikipedia concerning general non-strict monogamy:

“While forms of long-term sexual relationships and co-habitation short of marriage have become increasingly common in the Western world, these are generally not described as concubinage. The terms concubinage and concubine are used today primarily when referring to non-marital partnerships of earlier eras. In modern usage, a non-marital domestic relationship is commonly referred to as co-habitation (or similar terms), and the woman in such a relationship is generally referred to as a girlfriendmistressfiancée, lover or life partner.”

What is being described in that brief paragraph is something that has been in our world for ever. But what is new is the idea of a better world through strict monogamy without divorce. The world has experienced for far longer the old way of ‘everything you desire,’ man driven, sexual behavior. The Christian way was clear. Jesus said, “have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female. And for this reason a man shall leave mother and father and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one.” From that point on for the believer in Jesus, strict monogamy was the way to go. This is what was intended, and Jesus would not bend to accept another way. He already declared this monogamy good, why would he succumb to another order?

To drive the point further, Jesus says that if you marry a divorced woman (speaking to men) you make her an adulteress! Why? Because she will likely marry again while her first husband is alive. It was not so from the the very, very beginning. No divorce. Jesus and Paul never talk about remarriage to another while your wife is still living. Why? Because the bar is set real high in God’s view of marriage. One man and one woman for life. Everything else…everything else is a distortion.

Some certainly will argue that you can divorce your spouse for sexual immorality. But this does not help us. It still does not tell us a person can remarry after the divorce. Another interesting thought is that trying to figure out when is a proper time to divorce and remarry (what is meant by the term, sexual immorality, in Matthew) could very well be moving us right into the same mind frame that the Pharisee’s had when asking Jesus the question about divorce! “When can a person remarry Jesus?” “Can you divorce for lust, self gratification, pornography, an emotional affair?” All these questions could very well be answered by Jesus the same way he did with the religious of his day. “Have you not read, He that made them from the beginning made them male and female.”

Divorce, no matter under any conditions is a distortion. If you think this is the narrow road, you are right! Is is the path least taken. How many really want to remain single after a divorce? Maybe our bickering over divorce and remarriage is a avenue to feel better about ourselves. Who wants to think they have disobeyed God? Yet we do. All do. Sorry if you thought you were the exception.

Most of us have a pagan tradition! Pagan was a term that was used by early Christians to show disgust for the worship and lifestyles of opposing cultures. It is a derogatory word, and one I am not sure should have been used so much (not convinced it helps in reaching out). When Jesus was discussing who really worships the right way with a woman of Jericho, he said, “We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” It was clear to Jesus that Samaritans and other cultures influenced by opposing ideas on God from the Jews were wrong. But he did not use a term like pagan to describe them. He used the word Gentile.

This term had at first not the slightest connection with religion. Derived from the Latin pagus, the country, a paganus denoted a peasant or villager. Removed from the refinement of the cities such a one had, of course, very little acquaintance with the complicated system of Roman mythology. On this account only could it be said that those who remained unconverted to Christianity were Pagans. .https://www.definitions.net/definition/pagan

Interesting for sure…What does it mean? Whether we use the term pagan or another, we can be sure that our great, great, great…etc…grandparents were into all kinds of sexual practices that go against strict monogamy. But not just that. Most of our Christian ancestors did not uphold a strict monogamy as well. Christians throughout the ages divorced for many reasons. The strict monogamy way is certainly the new compared to the normal way of sexual relationships. It is so super difficult to live this way that it might be just a very few that never deviate.

“more than 83% of human societies were preferentially polygamous, and that polygamy was also prominent in the ancient Near East from which that presumed Western move to monogamy originated. So my question for now is: Why did such a large segment of human society switch from polygamy to monogamy? And my first answer is: at present, we don’t know.” David P. Barash Ph.D.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pura-vida/201603/how-monogamy-helps-men

The reason today’s culture see’s the ‘old way’ of pagan behavior as ‘new,’ is because all it has known is the new prosperous way of stricter monogamy as a dominant structure in society. The reason I say prosperous is because I am not convinced the women’s liberation movement could thrive in any other circumstance than in a monogamous culture. Could it have progressed in a commonly oppressive polygamous one? It didn’t. It was a monogamous culture that gave way for women rights, and for the husband (one man) to think once again about how he treated his spouse.

Though this structure has been in place due to the strong influence of Christianity, we now are finally realizing that maybe we don’t want the Christian way dominating our lives? Maybe the old way of doing things was better, or at least we can do it better today with our more civilized way of treating women and children. Today’s version of humanity will do better. But this logic if taken as true presumes that the past society’s version of humanism also believed it was doing better than the one before. This becomes a infinite regression of thinking we are doing it better, but if that’s the case, we can’t say we are doing it better, as a future generation is sure to think our way is unorthodox or even destructive. It is normal for us to think we have it down better. This was atheist Christopher Hitchens argument. We can do it better. Humanism has improved. But when one says, ” this is better,” there must be a best, and ideal. And who’s to say what that is?

But in a supposed civilized society which we all like to think we are in, there is the constant de–humanizing and objectification of one another through the various forms of entertainment we have around us. Our music, games, movies, etc…all portray ill behaviors that do not benefit the other. This is just a reflection of us, is it not? Are we really becoming more civilized or just greater pharisees? I’m reminded of a great quote by Blaze Pascal at the moment (but I’ll spare you).

There is a three year rule we see in the Bible. It’s found in the book of Judges. After three generations the people of Israel go right back to there old ways of following hard after other gods. They forgot the “I AM,” altogether. The book of Deuteronomy Chapters 4 and 6 focus on remembering God and what would happen when they would’t. Maybe the reason King David told His own soul to bless the lord was that he knew how prone he was to forget.

Christianity says that there is an objective way to determine was is best. It is not what we think, but what God has revealed. Can Christianity be true? If there is just a tiny bit of possibility that it could be, then all current judgements should be measured by the surety of what could be after we die. As Pascal once said, “Death is eternal…no matter what state it is in.” If we see a lack of evidence for God, it could be that He does not exist, or it could also indicate that we are that bad, to be unworthy of such a God.

It’s easy in any generation to forget what has been! Our human condition thinks we are inventing the new. But is there anything really new under the sun? I tend to think we are in a game of chess. We can move positions, but we still are on the board. Humans can only play according the rules of human nature. We have always, only been able to do that.

So in a way, what we call traditional marriage today isn’t really traditional. We have it all backwards! The liberal view of sexual relationships is actually the traditional way that has dominated the globe. It is the strict monogamous peeps that are wanting to do the “new thing!”

Many times we read things like the below quote, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goals consist solely of one’s own ego and desires.” From a homily given by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

This is the way of mankind. It always has been. Selfishness is the norm, we are woefully given over to it! A super natural grace is needed to pull us out of such a place. This is where the words of Jesus penetrate the most! If you being evil know how to give gifts to your children, how much more will my Father give you the Holy Spirit! And isn’t that what is needed; Something new…really new!

How to destroy a marriage?

Living in fear is not recommended. If most of us were honest (seldom we want to be) fear is a strong motivator in a marriage. Fear of divorce, fear of being alone, fear of failure, of poverty, of a reputation in Church, and the list can go on. What I have noticed over the years is that many within the Christian marriage culture would rather live in fear. There is something normal to it all. And there is no doubt that fear is normal or expected in us humans. It is a basic part of what makes us a human being. Animals fear, and we do to.

Fear can give birth to control. Are you are always upset at your spouse because they are not doing what you want them to do? That is a result of not being able to control them. And underlying that is fear. When you desire to have your kids be like you, it usually is out of fear! You fear the unfamiliarity of being different or living a different kind of life. “What if my kids do not attend college?” “What if they get married to young, to old, to the ‘wrong’ person?” We live so much like this we tend to not even understand that we are moving out of fear. Fear is the chief motivator. We can call it God and faith; and we do! I find in my own heart i’d rather believe the illusion that I am a faithful guy. This too is fear. Who wants to be seen as not walking in faith in the Church? Being seen as a sinner is what the Pharisees loathed. We value strong people of faith! And we assume they do not fear or are moved by such a primitive emotion. Jesus lived a different lifestyle than the religious leaders of his day. It made them uncomfortable, and they ridiculed Jesus and his discipleship for it. Just think of some of his sayings and how it flew in the face of the religious norm. Here is an example:

Luke 14:13-23 “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

This fear is no greater than when you have been hurt by the other. Say your spouse committed adultery. After such an action has occurred it would be easy to fear a repeat of the offence (no doubt Hosea did). But what if it was no offence at all? Think about this for a minute or two! Are there cultures where non monogamy has thrived? Wednesday Martin’s book Untrue tells about a few cultures that have a different kind of marital situation than we do, where a wife can be with a man other than her husband, and it is considered normal. There is no fear among those in this kind of arrangement when those rules are being adhered to. Or think of the non monogamy of Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism? Was there great fear among the women in these systems? I’m sure to most of the women, it was simply normal. They might not even have thought there could be a different scenario in there world. Did they fear being a wife of many wives? Did they know of a world where they had the choice to decide for themselves? There expectations were different then yours! Fear plays on rules and expectations. You have no fear of getting a ticket is when there are no rules of speeding.

But even in the alternative living scenarios Wednesday Martin reports on in the tribal lives of couples, there’s a understandings within the martial relationship, of guidelines within the culture to follow. And like our culture, when they are broke trust is broke. Then fear can reign, in both, the victim and the offender. And when that fear takes over a life, all you have is restriction, never liberation. My first insight is this; it’s not the format of the marriage that creates fear, Fear can and will reside in us long before any sort of marriage and it is one of the great motivators. Fear can reside in any kind of relationship. Husband, wife. Husband, son. Daughter, Father. Son, Mother. polygyny, polyandry, polyamory etc… Fear is in us, and it will manifest itself in different ways. Control is one major way. I’ll focus on this paradigm of fear in the blog.

Jesus came to liberate! Remember that. In your Christian marriage you should feel a freedom like no other! Free to love one another. And fear (the fear I’m referring to in this blog) is not a part of God’s kind of love. When we love in our power, we do fear, and in turn want to control. This is the normal way of love to be manifested in human beings. Fear is strongly attached to the kind of love we give.

God’s love contains no fear (1st John 4:18)—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.

In the verse above, the Apostle John is talking about God and us. Our individual relationship with God should not involve the fear of torture or continued feelings of guilt. God is love towards his Church. He died for her! This guilt that resides in us for our sins can annihilate God’s love in our life. In the flesh, we are guilty individuals. No one living is righteousness before God. Know one? No one! Fear can be a sign of inner guilt that we are not trusting God’s grace to wash over. As if the Living water of Jesus cannot cleanse it. “Though your sins are as starlet, I will make you white as snow!” (Isa 1:18) Do you believe you are forgiven? Many times we say yes, but the fear in us says no way! Being in Church to worship Jesus can be healing, in the way of constant re-affirming of this truth.

It might be good to share here that there is a good fear, and a bad fear. You should fear a big truck coming straight at you! But if every decision is made in your life as if a truck is coming at your face then your decision making will become suspect, full of panic.

More than not, fear is in a marriage from the very beginning. It started when you dated (or courted or whatever you want to call it) and you just never knew it. And when you were married the inner motivation of why you did what you did was fear. Oh, you didn’t think so, of course. But that’s what is amazing about fear; it can percolate without boiling over or showing any steam. It lies undetected. Living a life by fear can be tiresome. You’ve been there before haven’t you!?

  • You have to watch carefully how the other person is acting when you get home, so you can act accordingly.
  • Maybe your told what to wear out of fear you might be to attractive to others. You might stumble someone.
  • There is a inability to talk about things freely in safety.
  • You are consistently thinking of the “what if I do this…” or say that…
  • You are not able to share your thoughts on desires, wishes and wants for sex, money or other “sensitive” topics.

But of course, it usually does not come off that way in a Christian marriage. You usually cannot detect when fear is running the show. In religious marriages usually there are some Bible verses on modesty that will be quoted as to reason for the change of cloths, or how you should avoid evil, or even that you are seeking the good of the other by correcting them. You really have there best interest in mind, or so you say. It’s what religious people do. It’s almost hard to fault anyone. It’s hard to let go and allow people to live in freedom. Can you relate? I think in general we are scared of freedom. It amazes me that God is not. He let’s us go! Radically! If there is any reason for the Tree of Good and Evil. This is it; Freedom. There are consequences to freedom. But just as the devil mocks God’s decisions in creation, so humans do as well. “Why would God create the Tree of Good and Evil?” Have you ever heard someone mock God’s decision to do so by asking a question like that before? Us humans are still mocking God along with the demons on this freedom issue. Though humans are unaware of the blessings of such freedom. Freedom that gives them the ability to mock! It is all so odd isn’t it. A song that struck me as I got older with this theme was Depeche Mode’s, Blasphemous Rumors. The chorus goes like this;

I don’t want to start 
Any blasphemous rumors
But I think that God’s 
Got a sick sense of humor 
And when I die
I expect to find Him laughing

My point being, that God seems to have a higher value on freedom than we do in our relationships.

The Pharisees of Jesus day were the same way as us and fell into the same sort of problems as we do. Can you imagine being married to one of them? They lived a life of control, and so it was important in there mind to make others like themselves. Good people they were. They were religious, and in control. They did it by self discipline & public put downs of those not like them, all the while quoting spiritual writings. It liberated know-one, including themselves. It instead hindered, restricted and diminished those around them. And ultimately, it crucified Jesus! We are told that the peopled feared the Pharisees for fear they would be put out of the synagogues! Even without a word from the religious leaders of Jesus day, the people feared them. And the Pharisees themselves lived in fear. Fear of judgement, fear of reputation etc… We are told this kind of religion actually does nothing for us. It actually just rebuilds the disability we already have. If you don’t believe me, study Colossians Chapter 2.

Can we give our spouse to God? Are we able to give the Lord, Lordship over our spouse, our kids, our fellowships? Or have we simply becomes Lord’s over our flocks? But what if my spouse is going to do that again? That is fear talking. They might do that again for all you know. But that is there sad decision. You need to be free of fear if they do choose that path in order to make loving decisions, that are hard decisions, when you need to. So many stay in a marriage out of fear, when the marriage has really been divorced long, long ago.

For many Christian couples there is no adultery in the marriage. But, there is a control that rules the nest. (We seem to think people are “equally yoked” just because they are Christians, but far from it they are). And for many, the marriage has become unbearable. Trying to live up to another’s standards is quite hard. Have you tried to live up to God’s? Good luck! Instead of trying, the Christian is to die daily and ask for help from the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we cannot live the Christ life, only Christ can through us! That’s why! The Spirit of God can help us from a fear based life to a love based life. Attempting to get a spouse (or kid etc..) to live up to your standards of holiness is not going to help. It will simply kill your marriage. It is a burden that is too much to bear. Trying to please a self righteous Pharisee would have been impossible! Jesus, the Son of God couldn’t! Neither can you. You can’t live to please your controlling spouse. You’ll get tired, depressed, sad & without hope.

When you are working on getting rid of your fear, you will no longer make comments about what they wear, or what they were looking at on there computers or phones. You will not have to quote passages and make your spouse or kids cry or feel stupid. Working on fear is taking out a sheet of paper and writing out what you fear on it. Put your spouses name down. Then write out what you fear about your relationship with them. After you write, you will be able to look at it and see exactly what is motivating you in your relationship. Fear is that powerful! When it is on paper it becomes quite revealing as to why we say what we say in conversations. Many times I have thought my words were out of love. They weren’t! It was fear all along.

If you have kids, great! Do the same with them! Write out what you fear. And then look at why you do what you do with them? Why did you send them to that school or had them go to Church? How come you said this or that to them? Fear is what has moved you to do what you do. Again, we can call it Jesus, but it isn’t Him. There is great fear in thinking you are wrong over and over. But the beautiful thing about the Bible is that this is exactly what it says concerning you! So you have no need to hide it anymore. Christianity starts of with this premise: We are failures. To hide from that underscores the entire Gospel. There can be a nice joy to know you have no need of hiding anymore. You can be free.

Luke 5:8,10 “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ….
“Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to Simon, “from now on you will catch men.”

Nothing is wrong with quoting scripture to them or to a spouse. Actually quoting a scripture can be most beneficial, as we are told to do. Meditating on the Word, and the ways of God should be something we are in constant exercise of. But just quoting a scripture is something devils do and so do Pharisees. There is something that is that is behind the sharing of scriptures that is most important to God. And all of us need help in this, do we not?

Now ask a question? Is God greater than your fears? Can God, the creator of the heavens and the earth intervene, if it be thy will? Is God able? And if our answer is no, then we will need to act out of fear. It might be a nice Christian religious fear that is moving us all the day, but it is fear. No different of a life from any other religious or secular person. The same fear moves us all.

But I have to believe God offers us something different. A life unmovable by love. Jesus is the example. Though rejected and despised, he did not manipulate out of fear. He did not seek to control. Instead he let go. He shared truth, and trusted the Father with the outcome and the judgement of others. There was no use of force or coercion in his actions to get us to believe in Him. The Father let’s the prodigal son’s and daughter’s go.

When we struggle with fear, we need to write and be aware of what is moving us in our conversations. There will be a lot of apologizing for things said or did. “I’m sorry I said those things to you. It was not because I am concerned for your modesty (I don’t want you dressing like that), it is because I am afraid you will leave me. I believe you are beautiful…too beautiful to be with someone like me. That is what is really moving me.” “I use scriptures to get my way and feed into my fear.” “That’s why I parent the way I do, it’s why I am the kind of person I am.”

Try writing your own out!

As you continue to work on this, you will no doubt notice many things said even within the Church culture are said out of fear. If there is anything C.S. Lewis taught us in the screw tape letters is that our adversary is a pro at distracting us from what is really going on.

We need to die. Die to it all! It’s the only way. Let Go and Let God is about dying to the thing…the it!

Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The Serenity Prayer

An excerpt from the workbook by Peter Martin. From the Chapter on Anxiety!

This is why I love the Serenity Prayer so much:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
It is so awesome to me how this prayer focuses on the truth that there are some things that are within my control, and some things that aren’t. How much of our time do we spend worrying about things that we can’t change while we ignore the things that we can? Or, how much of our time do we spend paralyzed by fear as we convince ourselves that we can’t change things, that we actually can? This is most obvious to me when I stress out about the past or the future. Again, it’s not that it is wrong to think about the past, if we don’t think about our past ever we won’t be able to learn from it. And it isn’t wrong to think about the future, God wants us to be good stewards of our lives and that requires planning and discernment. But when we obsessively ruminate over the past and allow guilt and regret to consume us, we aren’t learning from our past, we are being controlled by something that we can’t change. Likewise, if our thoughts are consumed with “what if” questions about the future, which is by nature uncertain and outside of our control, we aren’t going to be able to effectively plan for the future. Instead, our minds will come apart with fear and instead of planning and making rational decisions, we will stress-out and dwell in paralyzing fear and indecision.

This will also steal all potential joy in your present circumstances because you will be so worried about what was, and what could be, you can’t simply enjoy what is. This is what Jesus is warning us about when He says: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Each day has enough trouble of its own. It is only as God gives us the power to accept the things that are out of our control, and helps us see that the only thing that ultimately matters about your future, whether or not you will spend eternity with Him, has already been accomplished by Him; that we can gain the peace to enjoy and function in the present, the courage to learn from the past and change, and the confidence to plan for the future and make decisions, knowing that the future isn’t in your hands, but in the hands of God.

The Ethic of Imitation & Future Benefit

In thinking about what makes a right or wrong ethic, principle or lifestyle, I had this thought.  What if determining good or bad conduct is looked at through the lens of imitation and exportation?  I’ve been kicking this around.  I remember a passage of scripture that says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”  Or another passage that came to mind was in Jesus own words, “a servant is not greater than his master, imitate me!”  That’s a paraphrase of course.  But anyone who has read the passage in John 13 understands the point.  Imitating someone could be a way to see if a conduct is correct or not, couldn’t it?  Especially if it is exported onto others!

Now let’s take your own life.  What if everyone on the planet imitated your life?  What would the ramifications be?  Contemplate it.  What if it really were to happen?   It’s an interesting idea for sure.  Take everyone on the planet doing what you do.  Your morality is now there morality.  Your actions are there’s too!  They way you eat, work, play & even have sex!  Now the question I ask myself is, “If everyone lived the way I lived, how would the world look?”

There is another complicated idea that I have in this regard.  Is this a good way for us to weigh our own ethics?  I mean this.  Would this be a great way for us to find out if we are living a narcissistic life or not?  Narcissism is one of those things that we do not even know we are living in it.  Our selfishness does not let us know we are selfish.  But in answering some personal questions and having some thought maybe we could get to the answer of our own condition.

Many of us think of the future. There are some that have dedicated their entire lives to thinking of the future generations.  This is all done, so that we can have a future existence that is better.  There is a physical benefit to using the ethic of helping today.   Another way to say it is this;  We can use our future generations benefit as a way for us to measure if what we are doing today is right or wrong.

Now I want to bring this idea into our sexuality.  This will be sensitive no doubt as most things self reflective are.  But don’t let that scare us.  All that can happen to us in doing this is understand ourselves a bit more.   Though I understand that might not be your goal.

So let me run some quick scenarios:

If I were polygamous, I could ask, “What if everyone were polygamous?”  What would the world look like if that were the case?  Eveone male had more than one wife.  Could the earth support such a thing?  What would the population of the earth be after 100 years?  200 years?  What kind of natural resources would be needed for such a population?  What would the lives of women & children be like?

What if If everyone in the world were in a monogamous homosexual relationship?  What would the world look like in 100 years?  200 years?  Would the the planet benefit from such a thing?  What would human life look like in the future?

What if everyone were in monogamous heterosexual relationships?

What if everyone cheated on there spouse like me?

What if everyone had sex the way I do?

What if everyone loved the way I loved?

What if people treated women like I do?

What if people treated men like you do?

What if everyone used porn, prostitute or sex-bot instead of being with a beloved like me?

What if your sex, sexuality and sensuality were practiced by every other human in the same exact way?  What would our world be like?

It is the ethic of future benefit.  What if my ethical life could be measured and judged, right or wrong, on the answer to these questions.  And in turn would I change my life accordingly?  This is quite the challenge as I have mentioned.  I think the reason is because when we take our personal lives, especially our sexual ownership, and put it on the rest of the world, it is more easy to see a potential danger.  This could in turn move us to conviction that maybe what we are doing is quite narcissistic.  And this is no fun, especially because we are narcissistic!  If there is one thing our self desires does not desire, it is to think we are wrong in those desires.  And in order to self protect we could do many things to avoid such a attempt to rid ourselves of our desires.  Selfishness loves one thing…Selfishness.  I am simply suggesting a way for us to look and see if we are being such a person.

This is a theory of mine.  It might be something others have wrote about or lectured on before, and certainly there is nothing new under the sun.  But in my mind, it makes somewhat sense.  Do I live my life in a way that if all others did exactly what I did, with the same motives, attitudes and actions; how would the world be?

This just might be what Jesus is doing in us who are called his children.  He is making us like him the Bible tells us.  What if the world were just like Jesus as he is now?  Maybe this is the measure of Jesus love for the world?  He is making the world like Him!  In loving the world, he first lives a life to be imitated, then does the work of transforming us into that image.  Transformation.  This is the message of the Bible.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2nd Corinthians 3:18

Could we say that the measure of one’s love for others is in the investment in ones future benefit?  You save your money for your kids education, right?  It is a measure of your love for them.  Now take the ethic and move it into your personal life!  Would you sacrifice your personal life for the sake of the future generations?  Could you change your personal life so as to invest in the future of the world?   This is the ethic of future benefit and the ethic of imitation.

Sincerity

“We have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in relation to you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God.”

Let’s focus on the word sincerity!  It’s a loaded word in the original language that means without wax!  What does that mean Beau??? When a pot would get a crack in it, wax would be used to mend it and then it would be painted over.  Though the pot looked perfect, it was not. Over time the wax would no longer hold and the pot once again would be useless. So be sincere is to without wax, or holes!  It is referring to our life being free of hypocrisy or deceitfulness.

There is a heavy burden that we can bear when we are not honest with our failures in life.  I know personally how this is. It is very difficult to share with someone your secret faults (Psalm 19:12) because we might not want to change them or we simply don’t know how people will respond to them.  But in a relationship it is vital that there be an integrity within it, or else it is bound to have cracks and will eventually fall apart.  That integrity is upheld through honesty first and it’s what I am focusing on here.  But man it is hard to be honest especially in a religious context.  And it can be so difficult in a marriage to be honest, when being honest means being an utter failure.  We tend to see a lack of honesty as better than compete honesty.  Who wants to show off a crack?

In marriage it is especially important to remember that both you and your partner are full of cracks.  Greed, lust, jealousy, fear, resentment, hatred, envy etc..are in everyone and they manifest themselves in everyone (Mark 7:18-23).  Many overlook these or rather neglect them in exchange for a ‘good’ marriage of no problems.  But that is an illusion many live in within the Church.  No doubt we have learned in our growing up years that the more honest you are with loved ones, the  more they will see you as a person who is less than perfect, and that makes you vulnerable for what could come next!  The condemnation!  Oh, how fun is that?!  It is so un-fun, that we would better not say anything.  But the life of faith says otherwise.  It says to confess, to share, to trust God.

First, you can bring your cares before God.  (1st Peter 5:7)

I love this translation of Psalm 55

Psalm 55:22 (CJB) Unload your burden on ADONAI, and he will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved.

People might treat you with contempt, but Jesus won’t.  Neither do I condemn you He said to the woman who was caught in adultery.  God desires for us to come to Him!  Take the weight off and talk to him about your sex life, your lust, your desires, your inner thoughts.  Most have never spoken to anyone concerning there thoughts or desires.  And nor should one just tell anyone!  Some do not have sexual desires in marriage, and they have never shared that either!

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “…the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden.  Oswald Chambers.

Next, find a person in your life that you can discuss your thoughts with!

Living in sincerity is not living sin free, but living without pretense.  It’s scary, but your mind will thank you for it.

Living this way is an act of faith!  Maybe radical faith.  How is that?  Because we have to trust in God to take care of us when we have no idea what others might think, say or do to us because of our honesty.  And that’s tough.  What is the payoff for such honesty?  Maybe the best answer is peace and a good conscience something that is quite beneficial in life.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith… 1st Timothy 1:5

There is our word again; “sincere” faith.  A faith without wax.  Do I have a sincere faith?  When I think of my sincere faith in my wife, I find that it quite easy to have.  I see her daily and interact with her.  There is evidence for her existence which I do not doubt.  I also have faith in her character.  She has shown time and again that she cares for me.  My faith in her is sincere, it does not waiver.  It is without holes.

You can trust the Christian God.  The effects of the universe declare a creator.  The ability to think rationally is because the world can be understood.  The universe is ordered.  There is natural laws and laws of logic.  The evidence of God is there, as His love for you on the cross at Calvary.  God so loved the world.  You can be sure of that as well.  We can trust God with our frailty.

God’s character is such where we can come to him without wax!  I love that idea.  I might be full of holes, but God is not.  I can come to Him with sincere faith, because He is faithful.

Let it out, let it out
Let it out

A Sanctified Life, A Balanced Life

 

The Christian life is one of balance.  I don’t mean some mindless  abstraction, but a mindful, conscious effort to implement various ideas and actions.  This blog is about these ideas and actions.

Many who want to get off porn do so because they feel guilty or ashamed of there sexual desires.  Others because they were caught by there spouses and have been forced or coerced into getting help.  And the verdict is out; many within the Church self diagnose themselves a sex addict only to get into sex addiction based groups, ministries or rehabilitation centers.  People are seeking answers.  “Why do I do what I do?”  Of course those that are wanting to reign in there lust should’t be the only Christian people asking that question.  Do you ask yourself that question?

There are many answers to the, “why we sin.”  We sin because we have a brain problem!  No I am not referring to your brain on porn.  Sure porn effects your brain as sex does and many, many other actions and ideas!  But could we say our brains are simply jacked because of Sin?

I’m excited to see the new workbook written by Peter Martin on the topic of Sin.  I know from talking to him that he included, in the workbook, a section where he discusses the ramification of calling lustful behaviors sex addiction instead of simply calling it sexual immorality or sin, iniquity or transgression.  I look forward to his understanding into these things.  It’s important because the way you identify yourself is important.  It’s a popular idea in our culture isn’t it?  One of identity!  We have many passages in the Bible that speak of our identity!  “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh in the flesh, I live by faith.”  Christians should understand the importance of identity above any other philosophy, social culture or religion.  For it is this identify that we constantly are renewing our mind in.  And it is this identity shift which has happened to us by faith!  You see, when I have faith in Jesus, what does that actually mean?  What does that look like?  What is the application of that?  I can’t see faith can I?  Thoughts & ideas I cannot see!  But the answer to that overall question as to what faith looks like or what it means is found in Romans 6:1-11.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Can you see the identification in this section of the book of Romans?  This is what your faith in Christ means.  It is one of identity.  So what happens when we sin or transgress?  Simply put our identity is off.  We are not, “considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, in Christ Jesus.”  And that’s it!   So hopefully now you have a better understanding of your identity.  Where it has been good, and where it has left the building!  Also what faith looks like!  And it’s ramifications.

Jesus was full of grace and truth…what balance!  Why is balance important in the Christian life?

It’s a good question.  An important question!  Let me  give you a quick example of un-balance.  You like to listen to worship music.  It’s uplifting to you and set’s your mind in the proper spot; a God conscious spot.  But what if that was all you did in your Christian discipline?  What would that look like?  Take the idea to the extreme.  You would have someone who loves to hear songs about God, but that’s about all.  It’s a good place to begin for sure, but for all of us in the Christian life, it shouldn’t be all you partake of as your spiritual nourishment.  Just like an athlete, we need to be balanced in our training or else we will not have good function.

Here is a list that I come up with on ideas and actions that need my attention.

Ideas:

Daily motivation to glorify God

Setting my heart on the return of Christ

Set my identity in Christ

Be strong in Grace

Love/Hate

Thinking of others

Thanksgiving/Compassion

Actions:

Worship/Communion

Prayer/Meditation

Bible study

Confession/accountability

Service/outreach

Reading


When looking over the ideas and actions listed are you able to see area’s where you are out of balance?  Sure!  Of course!  Good!  I’m glad you do!  The Christian life is always working towards balance.  We are always growing in all of these ideas and actions.  It’s a life long work of sanctification.  Just because we implement these in our lives does not necessarily mean that all will go well.  Well, if we could do them perfectly then maybe it would.  I say maybe, because there has been only one who has been able to do them to completeness, and he was born of the Holy Spirit and not from a man’s sperm!  But if you or I have been constructed through the natural way, then we are bound to have deficiencies in what we seek to be like.  In short; we will struggle.  Many do not like that word; struggle.   It is a weak word, one of losers.  Unfortunately many in the Church are afraid of it as well.  What leader do you want to follow who struggles?  That truth in itself only confirms our depravity & impotence.

Though we know what we ought to do, there is a difficulty to perform such a task as to be like Jesus.  I mean we are talking about God.  So when a person declares from on high, “I am like Jesus!”  They are saying they are like God.  Wow!  Maybe this is why Jesus himself never overtly declared such statements before his trial; shouting, “I am God, I am God, I am God!!!  Because to do so would prove his own lack of divinity.  When someone is boasting is such highfalutin ways we see it as distasteful and embarrassing, and a sign of self righteousness, knowing good and well there outer flaws.  If anyone could do such boasting it could have been Jesus.

Any progress in the Christian life is a miracle!

In his, “Christian Life” Blaze Pascal put it somewhat this way.

There is great difficulty when entering the pious life.  This difficulty does not come from the goodness of God that is coming into our life, but from the distortions that are still within…The worst thing that God could do for you is to not give you this conflict that He came to bring.  “I have not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword.”

The Glory of God.

There is a common theme throughout the Bible which is the Glory of God.  We hope the following message by Pastor Peter Martin gives you new perspective on your battle against unwanted sexual desire or sexual lethargy.  There are many that get off of pornography and yet still do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  They instead become full of self righteousness; looking down on others who are not quite where they are at.  This epidemic of self righteousness could be the reason for the current crisis in our country on religious people feeling despair due to the shame for there sexual desires, wishes and wants; whom visit so many psychiatrist, psychologist, faith based recovery groups, conferences and centers.

Does the Church have an answer for people besides, “Just stop?”

The Bibles remedy for sinful inclinations (lust, pride, laziness, self righteousness etc…) is the Gospel.  The good news teaches us that we are utterly a mess.  Everyone is a broken person.  It also tells us that Gods love us so much as to bring forgiveness to us through the cross.  The famous mathematician Blaze Pascal observed these two truths of the gospel.

“Christianity is strange.  It orders man to recognize that he is vile, and even abominable, yet orders him to seek to be like God.  Without such a counterbalance, that elevation would make him horribly vain, or that bumbling would make him terribly abject.”

“The Gospel…it teaches to the just, whom it raises to the very point of participation in divinity itself, that in this sublime state they bear still the source of all corruption, which makes them, throughout life, subject to error, to misery, to death, to sin; and it cries out to the most impious that they are capable of receiving the grace of their Redeemer.  Thus, making tremble those whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, it tempers fear with hope with so much precision, by virtue of this double capacity for grace and sin which is common to all, that it humbles infinitely more than reason alone can do, but without leading to despair; and it exalts infinitely more than does natural pride, but without presumption.  It thus reveals that being alone free of error and vice, it alone can properly instruct an correct mankind.”

At Running Light we hope to help by seeking to understand the Gospel alongside others.

Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation.”

Enjoy Peter’s message!

Kill the meat!

I have a great friend…like a Jonathan in my life who happens to be a life long bodybuilder.  He’s good at what he does to say the least.  I don’t think he has eaten a cookie in 25 years or longer!  His loss?  Not if you ask him.  He is dedicated to seeking the Lord for what his body should have in it.  What a privilege to have learned so much from him over the years.  But I still enjoy cookies!  haha

In working out with him he would say, “kill the meat,” then your done!  What that meant was far more than just testosterone driven terms that seem good in his gym (to which we named, Bethel).  To kill the meat meant to work out with purpose in every rep.  To think through what you are doing.  Your form, your body & the oxygenation to the muscle.  It too meant to do this until your muscle is done, finished, no longer able to go!  You could always do more, but the potential for harm would go up considerably because you have already, “killed the meat!”  There is a time where you have done just enough.  No more is needed.

When we think of getting rid of things that hinder our walks with Christ, I can think of it as killing the meat.  What I mean here is that amputation of your phone, tv, etc…can get tiresome over time.  You do well, and then you fall to something else.  The pattern goes on and on.  But what amputation of these items does is make it quite tiresome to find the password or by-pass the road blocks that have been set.  Do you get my meaning.  Over the time of my life, I have amputated time and time again.  And over time I have fought and fought to once again get through the blocks to watch more of what I wanted.  Many just give up the fight all together.  But don’t do that!  Keep on with the seesaw gyration of amputating and then not amputating if we must!  Over time what we hope will happen is we will become a worn out rebel!  Too tired to break back into the enemies castle.  What was once an exciting venture in our youth (not so much age) our knees cannot take anymore.  Our hands hurt.  The back is damaged.  It is just too tuff muster the energy and fight to rebel anymore.  We have now surrendered.  Yet in doing so, we found the peace we sought at the beginning of it all!

This is where the Lord will take us in our rebellion from his ways when we enter into sexual sin.  He is patient and longsuffering.  Much more than you or I.  He will wait it out!  Until then.  Keep amputating until you are too pooped to fight against the blocks that have been put in place.  May then the white flag be raised!

And if your hand–even your stronger hand–causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  Matthew 5:30

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9

Comcast, Keep It Up!

Most have criticized companies like Comcast for there allowance of Pornography  via pay-per-view and subscriptions.  But really, I have always thought Comcast did a great job with there parental controls for there cable TV service.  There are many options for blocking channels, show ratings, titles etc…  It really is good and thorough.  And the 4 digit password can detour many from accessing adult content.  But I would like to take a moment to commend them on there new gateway internet portal which gives the parents of a household many options as to how to filter out unwanted material from a device.

In the past, you would have to buy a filter software program for each device.  It could be quite the hassle and expense.  And I still think this is a good way to go if there is a device that is being misused in your home consistently.  Or especially if you want to monitor texts, phone calls, or even phone apps.

But xfinity keeps making great strides to give the adults in there homes a filter on each device that connects to your network.  So if a kid comes over to the house for the night you can get on your portal and locate the name of the device that he/she is using to filter it!  This can happen without the kid knowing!  Pretty cool!!!  It certainly does not deal with the mass amounts of available material on the world wide web, but what it can do is prevent the accidental exposure to porn that you are trying to prevent from happening.  This works for younger kids.  Older kids will just find video’s on how to bypass such filters.  Why?  Because that’s what lust does.  It always finds a way!

But what is way cool is that you can set a device on Bedtime mode through the online gateway through your online xfinity account.  This Bedtime mode will shut off a device for the times you specify!  So that is way cool especially if you do not want your kid from using a device at night, or even during the day!  This means they cannot use the internet in your home.  They can make calls and texts, play games and use apps, but they cannot access the internet through your wi-fi.  Very cool feature.  It again is a good move on Comcast part to help give more control of what is available to there kids.  This in my opinion is the best way for regulation of the internet.  Give the parents the tools needed to do a good job!  If a parent does not want to filter things out, then they have the right to do so.

What’s In a Webpage Statement?

What does it mean to Advocate for Faith Hope and Love in Sex, Sexuality & Sensuality as our webpage states?

It is a question that I have wanted to answer for a time now, but now just getting around to it.  As the founder of RLM I have given it thought how the three; faith, hope and love, should support our decisions regarding sex, sexuality and sensuality.  But first let me discuss the later three just for a moment.

I believe that sex, sexuality and sensuality are all different yet very relatable to one another.  We do think that the three working together, in consort with one another, is much better than when one is singled out at the expense of the others.  We could have sex without sensuality, yet Im not sure that would be a very fun & healthy experience. It might look more like a prostitute kind of relationship.  You might not care much about their sensuality, or even there sexuality for that matter. The buyer simply wants to get off.  He is not interested in the catch or the life of the ‘other.’ But when the three are in unity with faith, hope & love we believe we have the best potential of lasting joy in the sexual experience.  This is our opinion.

But how would we know if sex, sexuality and sensuality were being expressed in right ways?  What a good question! Which brings us to finding a standard to measure these three against.  What we have found is when Biblical faith, hope and love become that standard which the other three are influenced by, then we get further to the intent of God for sex, sexuality and sensuality, and closer to glorifying God in them, which is our passion.  To be perfect in sex, sexuality and sensuality would be awesome to us. Yet we feel that we have not done so well. Though we understand we are not alone. Just because we know that we will never be able to hit a home run ever time we are up to bat does not mean we do not learn and practice to get closer to such a high goal!  Faith, Hope and Love become our teachers in such an education.

Let me try and begin by defining these words:

  • When we refer to sex, we are referring to sexual activity.
  • As human beings we have the capacity of sexual feeling and preferences.  This is what we are calling sexualtiy.
  • Sensuality can be defined as the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure

These are well enough definitions I think.  Sure we could dink around with them a bit here and there, but for my purposes, they work, and all of us believe there included in the Biblical narrative as seen in the lives of men & women.

The Bible was written over 1500 years by many authors, yet it is said in the New Testament book of Peter, that it actually was the Holy Spirit that moved upon the writers.  I find this kind of cool due to the inclusion of these three in it’s pages. Having these three included in the Bible reiterates what I already understand in life. That is these three are a part of the human condition of being.  As humans we have sex. As humans we have feelings and desires regarding sex. And as humans we can pursue the joy of sexual pleasure in our lives. Wouldn’t it be odd if you had a Holy book that did not include such normal observed behavior in the world?  Ours does!

When I was younger, I did not look at the three in light of such words as Faith, Hope and Love.  These three never actually related much to the other three. Where would I have learned about faith in sex?  What is faith in sex? What is faith? Or how does Biblical hope in Christ’s return to earth affect my sexual feelings and preferences?  I never thought that a BIblical definition of love could govern my pursuit of sexual pleasure. In short, I was completely secular. And this is what our statement is striving against at it’s basic level.

The inclusion of Faith, Hope & Love in Sex, Sexuality & Sensuality is our aim here.  And this leads us to search our sacred texts for answers regarding such things. Having a safe place to do so within the Church culture is what we are offering.  

We also recognize that within the Church environment there has been a plethora of strong opinions regarding sex, sexuality and sensuality.  Some of these views have lead to heinous acts in the name of God. We do not recognize these acts as being in faith, hope and love. Within our current culture we find having a place to discuss, study & pray about the topics of sex, sexuality and sensuality, in a familiar Bible study format can be very intellectually satisfying.  This is why we use the term advocating. It means to publicly support. And our hope is to support those that desire to pursue that standard which is ultimately God. Quite an endeavor for sure!

 

 

Repentance & Charles H. Spurgeon

Peter and I (Beau) had a chance today (on the Better Pleasure Podcast) to discuss the great English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon’s view of repentance from a few sermons of his.  This was in no way an exhaustive look into the vast work available on the web of Spurgeon’s sermons, but it was a good, clear sample.

Check it out if you get a chance below, after the blog.

At times Peter and I sense that many of the men we meet with weekly do not understand the term repentance very well.  Or maybe they know the current usage of it in Church all to well!  When most people think of an example of repentance, King David more often than not comes up.  The famous Psalms 32 & 51 are the examples of his repentance.  In turn the tune goes that King David repented of his sin of murdering his friend for his wife, and in turn was made brand new!  Never to go back to the temptations of old self again.  But is that really the case?  No.  Kind David had a rough go even after the intense evil he did with killing Uriah.  He still had his wives and his concubines, and he certainly missed the mark when it came to protecting his daughter Tamar against his son Amnon.  We are not told exactly what King David’s sex life was like after the event with Bathsheba, but the Psalms mentioned above, especially 51, is to be taken as a repentance of the sin with Bathsheba only.  My reasoning is because we don’t read of him saying, “hey God, cleanse me from murdering all those people in the past, and sleeping with all those ladies and having concubines and all.”  Some believers have such a problem with this failure of David that they say it was OK for him, and those of the Old Testament, to engage in the sex slavery of the day!  Why would people say such things?  Because this word repentance, I believe, is sorely mis-understood.  Repentance today is taught as being finished with a sin, no longer to go back.  Also it is the idea that now you are going towards God; and if to God, then not back to the sin again.  Well, if that really is the case.  Then anytime you repented of a sin, you would never go back to it!  That means there would be no need to ask God a second time for forgiveness for the same sin.  So confusing does this get that some even have used Hebrews 6:4-6 to suggest that if you fall away, then you cannot be brought back to repentance.  Yep, if you fall away after knowing Jesus, you cannot come back to repentance!  But if that was the case, then Jesus is wrong in Luke 17

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

And why give an alter call at a Church for those that have fallen away to come back to the Lord, when from Hebrews 6, they cannot!  There is obvious need for clarification.  But there is at most times none within Sermon culture.  And so this education seeps in to those that attend.  Over and over it goes.

The effects of this are tremendous, but rarely would one know if they are not involved in people’s recovery, counsel or accountability.

Many in the Church do not think they can ever be changed like there “leaders” are.  There under an illusion that he is all done with the big sins.  He may sin a bit with his pride (just a little), or maybe he might think his anger got the best of him when driving in traffic that day, but the deep greed, envy, lust of those listening, he certainly does not have.  I mean he needs to be above reproach right!  I am being somewhat sarcastic now.  But you can see where the lack of seeing repentance as a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly pursuit of the Christian puts the word (repentance) far away from the average Church goer from ever achieving. Why?  Because they sin over and over.  And if they do happen to not go back to a sin again, there is a certain worse sin that oozes out of us called self righteousness.  It is far worse that the one that left, for it hides itself in religious jargon & ritual.  This is where the Pharisees in Jesus day found themselves.  It’s not like they meant to get there on purpose.  It simply is what happens when fear runs the heart.  Fear of man, fear of not being seen as a leader who has it all together.  When I think of fear in my heart, I cringe.  I am a coward to it.  I know it, and must confess it to the Lord daily.  I wonder if what makes David a man after God’s own heart is that he was OK with this kind of honesty before God and the humiliation it could have among the nation of Israel.  David was a fragile man in so many ways.  Depression crushed him to the point of being paralyzed.  He lusted and killed in ways many of us cannot imagine a leader to do.  Yes he was an instrument of judgement on the enemy’s of Israel.  But in no way was he a perfect instrument.  Self righteousness prevents any of us from seeing our inner condition.

I was with a friend the other day (not a believer) and he commented that he thinks people are initially evil in the heart.  I said to him that what he just said was quite Biblically accurate!  He said, “really?”  I said, “absolutely.”  He was surprised.  Why?  Frankly, he does not see Christians as being of the kind that express there depravity or sin condition.  We have hidden it well from the world.  So much, that all they see is self righteousness.  As believers we tend to believe that at one point we were sinners and unable to come to God, but now that we have repented and are saved, we are pretty good.  Those that think they are better than others will segregate from the, “others.”  Do we?  Yes I do.

Jesus experienced this when a lady of ill repute went into a home he was at.  It happened to be a highly religious mans home whom had invited Jesus to a meal gathering.  Think of it as a BBQ.  And in the middle of the feasting time, an interruption takes place.  She comes in un-announced and simply weeps over Jesus feet. Everyone is embarrassed, and in my heart I know I would have been too.  That diabolical sin of self righteous pride wanted nothing to do with this women and her interruption with there “spiritual” time with the Master.  How many times am I frustrated at a person for there interruption of my spiritual experience or service?  Too much.

Repentance is seen once again in this Jesus event.  Both parties could have said they had repentance.  The religious group touted there repentance by saying they do not sin like that woman (it’s in the past), yet the women repented by declaring I am a sinner just like you men!  She did not think she was any greater than those in the room.  She saw things in Windex like clarity before Jesus.  Clearer than the religious men apparently.  And in the same way, this is really what King David seems to get right in his life.  He can see things in  clear reality before God.  He layed it out as this prostitute did.  Both saw that before God they were nothing but sick.  And this came out in tears and heavy hearts…broken and contrite hearts.  But never do we get the idea that they stayed clear of sinful inclinations the rest of the way.

Spurgeon’s sermons have this, present tense, self reflection of his own struggles and trials in life.  I am amazed at times when reading his sermons on just how often he throws himself under the bus.  And in doing so, he makes those that are listening to him educated that they are no different than he.  In need of God’s grace, from beginning to end.  This is one great lesson I learn from Spurgeon.  We focus on it a bit in this Podcast.  We hope it is helpful.

Before Discussing Porn

We live in a day where pornography is in constant news somewhere.  Currently there is the Presidents alleged past digression with a “Porn Star.”  I must say I do not like the term ‘porn star.’  To me there is no star in porn.  But that is my own thoughts, and I do understand why they use the term (They have there own awards annually).  Understanding what the word porn exactly means can be tough today.  As what was porn back in 1980 (playboy), is not really thought of as porn today by a teenager’s standard.  In talking with Jr. High kids in my city I will ask them if they think sexting is pornography.  The answer is usually, more often than not, a resounding NO!

There are obscenity laws that are on the books  to supposedly guide the country on the very issue of what is really porn or not.  Is porn obscenity?  If it were deemed so then I guess you might call a porn star an obscenity star too.  But that’s if they are seen as one and the same.  The reason I bring this up is because when we discuss porn with others (if at all) we tend to use porn as a generalized term to describe sex on film or picture (usually).  But the problem I find is this generic word, “porn,”  when used tends to steer our conversations away from what really matters in talking about sex, sexuality & sensuality.  Discussing these issues with a person properly means first listening, then understanding, but not simply being reactionary to the word porn.  Though this is tough to do for many!  When the word porn comes up in a talk with a parent and teen, or a husband and wife, just using the word porn in the conversation can hurt one deeply.  The word is a negative as obscene is, especially in serious conversation.

In Miller Vs. California (1973) the term obscenity was redefined from something that had no redeeming quality at all, to that which could potentially have some kind of scientific, literary, artistic or political value (but it is legally phrased as, “that which lacks,” those qualities.)  What would be obscene to me in Arizona would more than likely not be too obscene to those in New York, California or Las Vegas.  I for one do not see any scientific, artistic or political value in the watched or popular porn in the world.  But I understand this too;  Obviously not all porn is alike.  Just as there are different kinds or levels if you will of the obscene.  Over the years of my research on the subject, there is no doubt in my mind this is true.  I find it quite interesting when I read today of porn being a public health issue; for this reason:  What kind of porn are they referring to?  For many opponents of the industries existence this question is irrelevant, but for me it it one that we need to discuss.  Why?  Because understanding the kind of obscenity watched matters in our important conversations.

When finding porn on a teen or adults device, you had better be aware of the kind of porn that they are watching.  We all should realize that watching child pornography is different from watching consenting adults.  Another example is the difference there is between reading sexual fictional books and the sexual literature in the Bible.  Just because the topic of sex is brought up should not cause the same reaction from and in us.  We should be asking what kind of sex are we discussing?  What unites the examples i use is that all of them have a common denominator; sex.  But when needing to discuss sexual media of any kind with another, we should be asking the question; what kind of sexual information were you involved in watching, reading, listening too etc…  Of course it is not the only question that should be asked, but it is a major one.  How would you react to your son, if he found male homosexual pornography on the internet…and liked it?  Or your daughter was into Hentai video’s?  I realize that it is quite hard to stomach this kind of research on your part.  You probably never wanted to to know about it at all!  But the younger generation is one that is linked with an online world, that unless there are laws to limit what is on the world wide web in a major way then you will have to keep up with what your youngsters already know about sex & pornography.  And it could be quite a lot!  Never assume they know, because they might not.  But then again, they could.  At Running Light we are always discussing our culture through our blogs and podcasts.  Listening or reading them now and again will help you stay somewhat current.  Peter and I are always trying to use discretion when discussing pornography.  This is one reason Running Light Ministries is it’s own non-profit ministry.  We desire for these discussions to have a proper place in Church culture, but not necessarily on a Sunday or Wednesday evening Bible Study.  We understand the topic is delicate to the religious culture.

Remember that as technology continues to move forward, and there will no longer be any need for real life women and men to be in the “porn industry!”  That’s right!  There replacements?  A.I., V.R. & Holographic porn.  Has anyone seen the the movie Ex Machina?  Is this movie a picture of our future in A.I. technology?  What a trip if it is!  It really is an eye opener to how people could utilize A.I. technology for there personal desires.  But as of today, video pornography is still the numero uno source.  So until we step into the Brave New World (porn style) we will have to understand, the best we can, that today’s porn comes in many styles & genres.  And it’s free!

As all kinds of porn is allowed and accessible so easily, we should not be very surprised that as a society there would be a normalizing of a behavior and also a equal demonizing of the porn industry out of fear.  I was reading in the book, Big Porn Inc, how sexual predators of minors show porn repeatedly to children in order to make the sexual content seem like normal behavior.  The point is that the minor would go from being disgusted by the porn to, over time, warming up to it, finally seeing it as normal behavior.  Much of the porn sex available is certainly not normal sex in real life.  Forgive me here, but what I mean is that anal sex, or what is called “the money shot,” in porn is not normal in real life is it?  Most of us do not know the sex life of our neighbors and nor do I think we need to know.  But what is good sex anyway?  Or normal sex?

Regardless of what you think of porn, porn sex is done by human beings, so it is a reflection of us.  The seemingly odd sex that is on display in porn is certainly from the hearts of men and women, but that does not mean that it is commonly practiced.  I’m not saying that this odd behavior in porn is not tried in sexual relationships across the globe, but I am thinking it is not highly practiced in week to week sexual life.  The normalizing of such sexual behavior that is in porn will likely make more people say, “hey, maybe we can try that out!?”  This is no doubt true as there are sexual acts that we do today that seem very normal, but years ago, they would be seen as risky or perverted immoral behavior, even in a monogamous marriage!  So we need to be careful not to simply demonize a sex act primarily because it is not normal to us.  Sex acts that a parent finds normal, there teen might find common amongst his/her culture!  So I make the point that we need to be open to discuss what is being watched, admired & desired.

With this kind of understanding I would want to approach a conversation with the word porn in it with intellect and not just emotion.  Without it, there can be some monumental damage that you do to another.  You could demonize there sexual ideas or desires without discussing them.  This is quite a path most taken, but it is certainly shallow and lame do to it’s results.  People will and simply go online to find a person to talk to about intimate subjects if you are not willing to take the leap to discuss porn.  There are millions of online puedo counselors that all have seen Dr. Phil and stayed at a Holiday Inn!  And many of them have a different world view than your Christian one.  I am hoping to prevent you from doing exactly what your Christian values tell you not to do.  “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, & slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God,”  James 1:19.  Does the person you are talking with about pornography born again?  I don’t mean do they attend Church, but are they born again Christian’s as defined in John 3? Why are they wrong in watching porn or liking it?  On what grounds are they wrong? Have you taken the time to talk about there relationship with Christ (if they even have one), before launching into the hurt you have?  I do understand how hurt you might be, and how hurt you are.  So take a breath and let’s trust the Lord in the lives of those we love.

Our desire for our loved ones to know Christ must be valued over our own personal hurts. Is that the goal of your relationships?  Or is there underlying ulterior motive? Secret motives that lay hid away, deep in the heart?  When dominated by them we will succumb to our emotions (rooted mostly in fear and pride), and the conversation will be about us.  We will not be compassionate but angry.  Instead of faith we will react to our fears.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Church history is riddled with it, to the point of murdering of one another in the name of Christ.  So we are not alone by far in our struggles to discuss serious topics or ones that are particularly confusing in our culture as porn or sex.  As those in the Church, we must seek to ask Christ to live his life through us if we are to move forward.  To us Christians, Jesus is the only way to move forward.

Why do so many young people finally give up on the Church?  Maybe we are struggling to discuss things in there world.  We simply do not want to.  It is scary to us.  Why is it so difficult for us to talk about sex!  My heart truly breaks for those that do not have a place in the Christian Church to discuss such an elementary topic to us humans.  When I get to the root of answering these questions for myself, I find a fear deeply rooted.  Do you?

It is enjoyable weekly to meet with men to read, pray and talk about these topics together.  There is a special healing in it.  It might be that we are not there primarily to fix one another, but to encourage one another.  Let us encourage one another daily as long as it is called today.

 

 

 

 

 

Helping those in the Church

It is crucial these days to understand the online world the younger generation partially lives in.  Too many in today’s Church culture are not even close to aware of the issues that young people face let alone what they see everyday online.  As the younger generation has gotten older, they become our Youth Pastors and helpers in Church.  And some of them no doubt, female and male, have seem much pornography.  Avoiding this truth is bordering on ridiculous today.  There simply is no excuse for older leaders to be ignorant of the struggles of today’s younger, online, generation.

The older generation should know all to well what happens when sexual issues are simply ignored or kept secret!  I was discussing this with my mom, who is now approximately 70.  Specifically about the sexual abuse of her generation and the secrecy which followed such acts.  Pornography was seen as used mostly by “Dirty older men,” by her generation.  But though there were no free porn back then or the porn industry as we know it today, there were so many young girls that were touched inappropriately.  Way too many.  One is too many!  She was sharing that all of her friends growing up have stories of either rape or molestation in them!   It is so sad that the older generation in our Churches today were told not to discuss it.  And  many girls remained silent and suffered in silence.  The older generation should know the consequences of ignoring sexual issues.

It is certainly time for us to discuss these topics regularly as a part of our normal discussions in our close friendships.  As a administrator at a Church, it is vital that my staff and I discuss these topics in a safe way.  Talking about sex is not something that we should be afraid to discuss in these days of online free hardcore pornography which many young and old stumble on unwantingly.  Keeping silent has implications of the same proportions that we see today in the lives of so many who live in a silent pain inflicted by predators years and years ago.  We can help!

Help by being a person full of grace that is not afraid to discuss these topics.  Porn is sex.  You shouldn’t be freaked out by that.  And as Bible reading people who are well aware that our Bible hero’s are those who slept with the maid, had multiple wives, were a part of the ancient cultures sex trafficking & prostitution, we of all people, should be comfortable discussing sex.  It’s a shame if we cannot… on multiple levels.  But you can be of such an encouragement to a person who might need a person to talk to.   Remember, this younger generation have been guinea pigs in the United States’s free porn experiment!   And who better than a person filled with the Spirit of Christ to help?

God desires us to heal from our past, so that we may help others.  I pray that is what we are able to do more of.  When a person on a Church staff or a member of a church is having difficulty with our lustful culture, having people available to talk with who can empathize would be ideal.  This kind of friendship could prevent a pastor or member from keeping there sin a secret for years and in turn help with all the shame the feel.  This is the heart of Running Light Ministries!  We desire to be those people you can contact to share what is weighing down your heart.  Cultivating a new paradigm in the Church starts with one person who is willing to help another.  In order to do that we will need to do things a bit different from the current Christian climate…But then again, I think Jesus did the same.