Having a friend who is a Christian is a great blessing but having a Christian friendship is even better.
When (not if) things get hard in ministry you need to spend time in prayer for yourself and your people rather than feeding a critical spirit.
When we evaluate our lives in light of the end it tends to clarify our priorities.
Like any pastor I find myself talking with men about pornography and other expressions of sinful lust. Through the years I have found that there is a biblical framework that is often neglected when counseling through this issue. I have laid it out in some detail here, and I regret that it is so long. However, I post it because it has served to help many through the years. In short the post is broken into three parts: 1) What is Lust? 2) Where is it sourced? 3) How do I combat it? The answer to this is not to stop desiring things but to properly desire God. Hence the title, “Fighting Lust with Lust”. We combat sinful lust by fixing our “lust” upon the glory of Christ. In other words, we slay sin by savoring Christ.
Awhile back I preached a sermon in which I emphasized the deception and danger of lust. I regretted not being able to further develop the topic, specifically how to fight lust. The answer to lust may surprise some, but it is the answer and frankly the only answer to lust that ultimately works.
Every man desires to be considered a “good man”. If God has given a man 75 years of life and he looks back at it, nothing would give him more joy than to know that it wasn’t in vain. Further, the church is in desperate need of good men. The reason of course is that good men honor God and multiply themselves. Good men make more good men.
But, what do they look like?
Over the last 15 or so years of being a Christian I’ve observed a recurring trend. When I ask someone how I can be praying for them I often hear about a need to be more faithful with spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, prayer, etc). In most of these conversations the believer talks like he/she is a soloist. While they know that spiritual laziness is wrong it seems to be mitigated by the appearance of it being contained and ok. While it is not ideal it is not a big deal. Who are we hurting, after all, when we don’t read our pray? Who suffers when my eyes are glued to Netflix and my Bible gathers dust? What’s the big deal about me not coming to Sunday worship? There is a pervasive downplaying of the overall impact of our obedience and our disobedience.
The bottom-line is that your obedience as a Christian is not just for you. And therefore, you disobedience does not simply impact you.
It’s About God
With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job.
There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.
I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.
I was a fairly new Christian in my mid-twenties. I was running very hard fueled by zeal and far less knowledge. To my credit I was talking to a lot of people about the gospel. To my shame I was developing a bit of a self-righteousness toward those who did not. I remember judging people and whole churches’ faithfulness based upon the appearance of outward zeal or emotion. Until one day I got rebuked without a word.
We had been going to a new church for a few months. This church had good teaching but I felt the music left something to be desired. Also, there seemed to be a real lack of passion for a people who supposedly so loved the Bible. What gives?
We would sing as a congregation and I remember offering my weekly critique of the music. In my mind then it was incremental so I did not see the ugliness of it. But, it was truly ugly. One Sunday we happened to be standing behind a gentleman that was a bit quirky in his approach to conversation. He smiled and seemed sincere but, man, he always seemed to say something that was obtuse and somewhat unsettling. I don’t mean that it was inappropriate but that it unsettled my ease. It made me uncomfortable. He had a way of getting under my skin. And now he was standing in front of me singing while I was in full critique mode. I remember looking at him and wondering …
How do you know if you have a good relationship with someone? Your initial reaction may be to evaluate based on the presence or absence of conflict. “We never argue.” But, how healthy is a relationship that does not have any disagreement, misunderstanding, arguments or forgiveness?
What if a healthy relationship was not the absence of conflict but rather the way in which it arises and is handled?
Let’s face it, if you are in a relationship with someone then you can be assured that there is a selfish sinner in it. This means that you will be saying, doing, and assuming things that are not loving. There will be a need for forgiveness to be extended. The conflict in the relationship is merely an occasion for relational intimacy. Through honesty and compassion the relationship goes to deeper levels. It is a bit counterintuitive though, but conflict–when handled properly–can help serve the relationship.
What about your relationship with God? Would you say that it is healthy? Is it mature? Is it deepening?
The dynamics change a bit here, but you are still in it so there is still a sinner in the relationship. Therefore, if you are being honest, there are going to be things that you do not understand, assume, and misread. You will reflex toward yourself rather than service. You will bring questions, complaints, burdens, and confusion to God. Is your relationship with God mature? Can it handle your deepest questions? Can you bring your fears? Do you trust him with insecurity? Do …