Saturday, June 7, 2014

Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up!

Luke 18:18-30 (NLT)

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’” The man replied, “I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We've left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

So, me and Rebekah have been to a lot of churches in the last few years and we are having trouble finding one that feels like home. It is hard to find anybody that wants to be real. To be real friends, and do real life together. Everyone we meet seems to just want to go to church on Sunday and maybe Wednesday and then get back to their own busy lives. It's like they're afraid of anyone seeing who they really are outside of church. Like if you spent any time around them for real you might see that they aren't perfect.

As I was reading my Bible I came across the story of the rich young ruler (or religious leader depending on your version). The thought came to me that maybe that is the trouble with Americans. We are all so rich compared to the rest of the world and it takes up a lot of time and energy to keep it that way. Maybe so few people in America can be real because if they met the real Jesus and spent some time talking to Him they would find themselves walking away very sad.

Do you have what it takes to meet the real Jesus? To walk up to Him and ask "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Could you handle the answer? Are you willing to try?

I think we need to get real with ourselves and with Jesus. Start asking the tough questions. Dig deep. Are we ready to do what ever it takes to inherit the kingdom of God? Shouldn't that be the only thing we are really concerned about? Does anything else even matter?


I will be writing more on eternal perspective next!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Intimacy With Our Creator

Why is it so hard to listen to God? Is it because we never try? Or maybe we never knew we could. To hear God, straight from the source. That is what I need in my life and what I have been missing for most of it. I have always believed that God was there for us, believed that he was real and that he cared for us. But I always struggle with really getting to know Him. I look back and wonder how many messes might I have avoided if I had just stopped and asked God what to do. Life is hard enough even with help. Why would we try and do it all on our own. This is where I am at, learning to listen, learning to trust, learning to follow.

It has been a rough year for me and my wife and kids. A lot has happened. In all the craziness I grew lazy with my relationship with God. Other things got in the way. I stopped making time for God. 

This is a little update of what has happened and where things are at. I also want to share a couple songs that are good pictures of where I am at in my walk and that have helped me pull through. 

A little over a year ago, my father-in-law past away. It was a very hard time for Rebekah and a hard time for the whole family. After dealing with that and all the craziness of raising a baby and a toddler, I realized that, due to some poor decisions and bad money management on my part we couldn't afford to live in the house that we were planning on staying in for the next four to five years. So, in January we moved in with my mother-in-law who was nice enough to let us invade her home. Now we are trying to get out of debt and figuring out what the next few years will look like.

That is some of what has happened that has brought me to the place of realizing how badly I need to stay focused on God. How I can't keep going along, trying to do the best I can. I need to be communicating with God on a personal level, hearing His voice, and asking Him what he wants me to do and what He wants for my family.


I heard this song and God kind of woke me up:



Then He used this song to start speaking to my heart and drawing me back to Him:



And this song is a good picture of where I am at now:



So, that is what has been happening and where I am at. I should be posting more regularly again from now on.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Is The Role Of The Church?

This is a great clip from Dr. Tony Evens that my pastor showed this morning. Makes a lot of sense and definitely worth sharing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Confessions Of A Porn Addict



Porn almost killed my marriage.

I have struggled with porn since I was 14. This blog is not an easy one to write but it is something that desperately needs to be addressed in our culture. Over the years I have sought help with my problem from many people and found very few with any idea of how to deal with the issue of pornography. The first time that I started finding freedom from porn was when I was at school in Memphis and had the support and accountability of some amazing Christian brothers. That lasted about a year and a half until I was living with my brother in MN. We were almost never home at the same time so it was very easy to give into temptation and slowly I began to fall back into my old habits. There were times off and on that I would resist for a while but the temptation was always there and eventually I would give in again.

When I met Rebekah and we got engaged I told her that I had struggled with pornography. She forgave me and assumed it was something in my past. I had been doing pretty good at resisting temptation and I thought it would get easier once we were married. I was wrong.

Rebekah got pregnant shortly after we were married. The stress of a new marriage on top of the extra stress of dealing with Rebekah's hormone changes only made it easier for me to give in to temptation to try and find a distraction from the stress and the struggles of life. Don't get me wrong here, I am not trying to make excuses for myself, I am just trying to tell you some of what goes on inside that pushes me towards pornography.

I would tell Rebekah when I gave into the temptations because I knew I had to be honest with her. It hurt her so much, I would give anything to be able to go back and undo the damage that my sin did.

After Mercedes was born I knew something had to change. I talked with my pastor and we started meeting on a weekly basis. From then on I started to be able to fight the temptation. I took steps to make it difficult for me to get easy access to porn. I stayed strong for about a year. Then the lust started to creep back in. I would watch movies that I knew I shouldn't be watching. The times that I failed where not very often but every time it happened it broke any trust that I had with Rebekah and tore down her self esteem more and more. Finally we hit a breaking point. I had been clean for several months but our marriage was a mess. Rebekah had no faith in me and for good reason. She was constantly waiting for my next confession of guilt. She was completely closed off. We didn't talk about anything that mattered any more. She told me she couldn't go on like that, that pornography was adultery and that there was no room for it in our relationship. Something finally clicked in my head, to my shame that it took so long, but I knew she was right. We started talking about things again and trying to work on our marriage. One night I wrote her a long note, I told her I was done with the pornography and that it wouldn't happen again. I asked for her forgiveness and for another chance.

That was the turning point. We started working towards make our marriage happy and healthy again. We still have a lot of work to do. The damage that I did to Rebekah and our marriage will be something we have to deal with for the rest of our lives. That is why I am writing this blog. Because one: there is still hope for anyone of you that is struggling in this area. And two: I want to share with you some of the things that have helped me to have victory and to break free from this addiction.

So, here are the facts. Pornography is adultery. There is no other way to look at it.
Matthew 5:28 - But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The thing is, when men look at pornography and their wives find out it attacks her where she is most vulnerable. Her self-esteem and her self-worth. If they find out what their man has been up to it cuts right through their heart. It makes them feel worthless and inadequate. There is no place for pornography in a marriage or in a Christians life. It will destroy you.

If you are married and you struggle with porn, stop now before you do any more damage. If you are single, get this taken care of before you get married. It will save you and your wife from a world of hurt.

So how do you stop?

You can't quit on your own. You can't keep it a secret. You will always tell yourself you can handle it, this is the last time, it won't happen again. Those are lies from Satan. Porn thrives on secrecy. You have to get help. You need support and accountability. You cannot do this alone.

Start by telling someone. I would suggest your pastor or someone that is close to you that you trust and that is spiritually grounded. You are going to have to tell your wife too. You may not want to start there, but trust me, it will be way better for her to find out from you then for her to figure it out on her own or for her to catch you in the act.

Pray all the time!
1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Never stop praying.
Another thing that helped me was constant prayer. All day long I would pray: "God kill my lust." Whenever I have a lustful thought I ask God to give me strength and to heal me in that area.

There is no easy road. You have to be ruthless. You have to do whatever it takes.
Mark 9:47 - And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.
I had my wife password the computer so that I couldn't use it unless she signed me in. Make it hard for yourself to get porn. Do you need to get rid of your internet? Your cable TV? Your smart phone? Do what ever it takes.

Flee temptation.
Mark 14:38 - Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
I had many times when I would sense what I needed to do. I would get the feeling that I shouldn't get on the computer right then, or that I shouldn't turn on that movie. Listen to the little voice inside you. Almost every time that I went ahead anyway and thought: "It will be fine." That was when I would mess up. You need to learn to listen to and trust the little tugs and nudging from the Spirit.

Another thing that helped me was exercising self control through fasting. There is a lot of stuff to write about that and I am going to be writing a blog about fasting soon. It would be a good idea to start by doing a 40 day media fast. Separate yourself from the lust saturated media that surrounds us. No TV, no movies, no video games, no secular music. It will help on multiple levels. It will keep all that stuff out of your head and you can use the time that you spent on that stuff to spend time with God and with your family.

If you have more questions please feel free to send me a message through my Facebook page or my Google+ profile. I have also updated  my resources page with some new books and things. Don't let it go for another day. Get help! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Will Dance

I know that I have talked a lot about priorities and putting family first, but I feel like in this day and age this is something that can't be stressed enough.

My oldest daughter loves to dress up and be the princess. She pretends to sleep and says "Daddy, you be prince." Then I am supposed to try and wake her up but the only way to succeed is by giving her a kiss. Then we put on one of her princess dresses (she has several), and go to the ball (which is the kitchen, because her dress up shoes click on the floor), and then we dance. This is probably her favorite game right now. It is something that I don't want to pass up because I never know when she might outgrow it.

There is so many things in life that you can never plan on. I don't know what will happen tomorrow or the next day. Life is too precious to miss even one moment like this with my daughter. Life gets crazy, we are all busy and have stuff we need to get done, but make sure you are making time for what is really important.

This is an amazing song by Steven Curtis Chapman about not missing those moments that really count. If anybody knows that this is true, it is him. His five year old daughter died in a tragic car accident. You never know what might happen. Don't let your business get in the way of what really matters.




If you haven't seen the movie Courageous yet, go out and rent it and watch it asap. It is a great movie that touches on almost every area of what it means to be a man and a father. That movie changed the way I look at life and is what inspired me to start this blog. Go watch it!

Once again, keep your priorities straight! Don't pass up the precious moments that life sends your way because you never know when they will be gone.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

YouVersion

Another thing that I started at the end of last year was a better way keep me on track with my Bible reading. I got a tablet for Christmas and I began using it for my Bible reading while I helped Mercedes to fall asleep. It works out great. I am using the YouVersion Bible App. It is a great tool. Almost any version of the Bible that you want, tons of different reading plans to fit any schedule or whatever you are wanting to study as well as a daily Bible verse and lots more. If you don't have a tablet or a smart phone you can do all the same stuff on their website: www.youversion.com.

I am currently reading through the New Testament in a year. It is a great plan to go with my schedule because I don't always have a lot of time, plus I am reading through several other books at the same time.

So, find something that works for you and start getting in the Word every day. See what God has to say to you through the Bible. You don't have to start big, just figure out what works and go from there. Even if you just have YouVersion email you the daily Bible verse that is still a good place to start and you are getting a little bit every day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Love Dare

Marriage is a kind of touchy subject for me. As I have written in other blogs, I have no intention of ever leaving my wife. When I got married it was for life. I try to be proactive about keeping our relationship healthy and me and Rebekah have what I consider to be a well above average marriage. But that doesn't mean I can let my guard down. It doesn't mean that it is always smooth sailing either. Satan hates our marriage and we are under attack almost every day.

Now, I love my wife more than anything, the trouble is I am easily distracted and I don't always remember to show Rebekah how much I love and appreciate her. I also have a tendency to do stupid and inconsiderate things because I am a guy and that seems to come with the territory. That said, after we had a particularly rough day, I decided it was time for me to step it up a notch. To make sure my priorities were in the right place. To make sure I was doing everything I could to make Rebekah feel loved and cherished. So I went out and bought The Love Dare.

The Love Dare is a forty day study with a reading and a new dare every day. It goes along with the movie Fireproof and is designed to strengthen and revive marriages.

I started going through the book earlier this month, along with fasting from watching movies and TV in my personal time as well as fasting from video games. The idea was to get my focus back where it needed to be and to help me learn to better show Rebekah how much I love her. I am a little over half done with the dare and let me say that it has been a rough month. Satan has been hitting hard. At first it caught me off guard and I didn't even realize what was happening until one night me and Rebekah were talking and she pointed out that I was giving in to everything without even a fight. After that I started to realize what was going on and watch out for it. The reason I was caught off guard was that Satan was attacking in areas that aren't usually a problem for me. I have had to be extra diligent and try to be praying all the time.

What I am trying to say with these blogs is not how great I am or how spiritual I am. It is not about how awesome my marriage is. Although sometimes it is about how amazing Rebekah is. The point is that no matter how good or bad your marriage is, there is always something you can do to make it better. Don't settle for good when maybe God is trying to give you something that will blow your mind if you are willing to work for it. Don't lose hope, if it seems like your efforts are just one sided or that your partner has already checked out, keep praying and seeking what God would have you do. Stay focused, work on your own issues instead of always looking at what you think your partner is doing wrong. Be on guard though. Be ready to fight because Satan isn't going to like it. Don't give up on your marriage and never stop trying to make it better.

I have put some new books and stuff up on my resources page so be sure to check them out if you are looking for a place to start.