Friday, October 30, 2015

Oct 31 - Matthew 6:10

Jesus said,

"Thy kingdom come"

Matthew 6:10

Where is the kingdom of heaven?

Duh ... it's in heaven, right?!

Well… yes ... and no.

Yes, the kingdom of God is absolutely in heaven.

But there's a better definition for where the kingdom of God is: The kingdom of God is wherever God it is!

And where is God? Everywhere! He is sovereign over every molecule in the universe.

And yet, our Almighty God allows free will. He allows us to kick him out and ignore him. He allows us to pretend to be sovereign -- large and in charge. He intentionally limits himself and invites us to welcome him in.

When we do, his kingdom has come! When we don't, we miss his blessings.

Near the very beginning of human history, humankind kicked God out. In the Garden of Eden, we said that we wanted our eyes to be opened and be like God. From that moment on, the Sovereign Lord allowed sin, death, and rebellion to rule the earth. Thus, if the kingdom of God is wherever God is, we – even in our daily Christian lives – don't always invite him in.

When Jesus came to this earth, he planted his flag, much like an explorer plants his flag on a new land. In Jesus' first sermon, he proclaimed that through him, "the kingdom of God had come near."

·       When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we are overthrowing darkness and sin.

·       When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we are proclaiming that we want God to reign - not just in the world, but in our own hearts.

·       When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we are taking new territory, proclaiming that this space belongs to God and that he is welcome here. And sin, death, and the devil no longer have any claim to the space.

·       When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," it is a declaration of war.

·       And when we pray, "Thy kingdom come," it is the beginning of victory!

    The world calls today Halloween. Some use that to celebrate the kingdom of darkness.

·       Pray today for the light of Christ to overcome the darkness of this world.

·       Ask God to help the kingdom come nearer to you today.

·       And ask God for ways to help those around see and celebrate the kingdom of light.

In Christ's Love,

a jack-o-lantern

(Jesus picked me from the field.

Washed me off.

Clean out all the gunk inside me.

Carved a smile on my face.

And put his light in me.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Oct 30 - Matthew 6:9

One day Jesus was

praying in a certain place.

When he finished, one of

his disciples said to him,

"Lord,teach us to pray, just

as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them,

"When you pray, say: 'Father,

hallowed be your name,'

Luke 11:1-2

Jesus said,

"Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name."

Matthew 6:9

The Lord's Prayer can be found in both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In the next few days, we'll cover Jesus' words as recorded in Matthew in our month-long survey of the Sermon on the Mount. 

But ... I couldn't resist starting here with the disciples' lead-in question that Luke thankfully recorded: "Lord, teach us to pray."

Let that be our rallying cry for these next few days. "Lord, teach us to pray."

And so the Lord did. He gave us what we call the Lord's Prayer. 

Many churches and many people say this prayer word for word. That's a very good thing – especially when we mean it word for word ... rather than just saying it out of rote and routine.

But most scholars believe that Jesus was not offering us a prayer to be read word for word. Rather most see this as a pattern for prayer. Must see this as teaching us the general categories to make sure we pray for if we want to grow our relationship with our Father who art in heaven. 

And it starts with those words: "Our Father in heaven."

Those were radical words. Blasphemous words. How dare someone call the Lord God Almighty their Father unless they really were the Son of God!

With this prayer, Jesus was claiming his divinity. But then he did something remarkable: He gave us the same access to the Father in heaven.

No, we are not THE Son of God ... but we are sons and daughters of God. And as children of God we have the right to come to the Lord God Almighty in personal relationship. We have the trust to talk to him as Abba, Father, Daddy. 

Jesus promised us this kind of relationship through this prayer. And it was radical. And wonderful.

      Right now, try spending a few minutes talking to God as your Dad.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who acts like a child

(a child of the King)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oct 29 - Matthew 6:7-8

Jesus said,

“When you are praying,

do not heap up empty phrases

as the Gentiles do; for they think

that they will be heard because of

their many words. Do not be like them,

for your Father knows what you

need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6:7-8

There are days when I'd like to think that I'm an efficient pray-er ... exactly like Jesus recommended in this passage.

An economy of words. Short arrow prayers. Aimed crisply at God's heart. Not babbling on. That’s often my prayer style.

But that's not at all what Jesus is talking about.

Rather, we need to ask again the purpose of prayer. What is it? The purpose of prayer is not to get things (especially according to your desires). The purpose of prayer is to unite your heart to God's.

In private, I probably ought to have a lot of words, long conversations with my Father. (And I certainly ought to mix into that a good amount of listening to my Father too ... as he speaks to me through his Word and though the sweet silence of listening.) But if a heart-level relationship is the goal, my economy of words is probably not the ideal.

So why did Jesus say what he did in this passage about being efficient in our prayers?

Because -- if you remember the context -- he's talking about what hypocrites do in public.

In public, we don't need a cacophony of words, used to draw attention to ourselves. Be short. Be sweet. Be true. And then go home and pour out your words (and your heart) in your prayer closet.


That's what Jesus is saying. If I'm praying to be heard by others ... then I need to stop. If I'm praying to be heard by God ... then I need to retreat to the silence, maybe join with a couple of prayer partners, and work on my relationship with my Father.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who was the shortest guy

in seventh grade, and

it’s carried over to prayer …

a guy who runs the risk of being

too short and pithy in prayer

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Oct 28 - Matthew 6:5-6

Jesus said,

And when you pray,

do not be like the hypocrites,

for they love to pray

standing in the synagogues

and on the street corners

to be seen by others.

Truly I tell you, they have

received their reward in full.

But when you pray,

go into your closet,

close the door and pray to

your Father, who is unseen.

Then your Father, who sees

what is done in secret,

will reward you

Matthew 6:5-6

A famous family named Wesley had many children. Many, many, many children. Therefore where was a busy mother to go to find quiet, private moments with God?

Legend has it, that the mother of John and Charles Wesley – the famous evangelist and hymnwriter, respectively – used to sit in the tiny little room at the center of their house, pull her apron over her head, and dare her children to interrupt her time with God!

The Wesley children probably learned -- like our Thomas children -- that the day went better when you didn't interrupt mother when she was talking to the only Rock of Sanity in the midst of a busy day!

Jesus' point today isn't to recommend that we find a prayer closet (or pull an apron over our head if that's the only way we can find one on one time with God) -- though that is necessary and powerful advice! In other ways and other places, Jesus will teach about and model how to do life-giving, private devotions. But that’s in other passages and on other days.

Today the point is our attitude in praying. Basically Jesus is saying: Don’t pray to gain the attention and accolades of others; rather, pray for an audience of One!

The God who sees in secret yearns to be met in the secrecy, honesty, and humbleness of your heart. The One who knows you already wants you to be vulnerable and trusting enough to give more of your heart ... and be even more fully known. The Lord doesn't want your prideful prayers; he wants your heart and your devotion.

Or to say it most simply: He wants you!

Not because he doesn't technically own everything, but because he loves you and wants you to give yourself to him as a gift. Ask your beloved – does she want you to love her as your duty? or does she want you to love her as your joy and give yourself to her as a gift?!

In Christ's Love,

a guy who wants to be a superhero

(letting the God who sees in secret

see behind my masks)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Oct 27 - Matthew 6:3-4

Jesus said,

“But when you give to the needy,

do not let your left hand know

what your right hand is doing,

so that your giving may be in secret.

Then your Father, who sees what

is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:3-4

I am left handed. Very left-handed.

Mary Louise is left-handed too. But not so "very." Having to fully functioning pants made it much easier for her when she was a surgeon.

Me? I've often told people that my right hand is just here to make me look balanced.

Therefore, my left hand often doesn't know what my right hand is doing -- except I don't think that this was Jesus' point in today's verse!

I think he speaking figuratively, rather than literally!

Yesterday's verse talked about not trumpeting our generosity before others in order to be seen by them. He talks about giving in secret so that only our Father who sees in secret will know what we are doing.

Think about what this means… By giving in secret, we are not trying to curry favor with God. God knows our heart already! We can't fool him with false pride! We can't trick him with "secret generosity." No. "Giving in secret" means giving for the right reasons ...

·       because you love God

·       because you love others

·       because you're not looking for fanfare

·       because you simply and truly want to obey.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who -- in Worship Class in Seminary –

gave his first (practice) benediction,

using his left hand to "sign" the cross.

A guy who then had his worship professor

come flying out of his chair, saying, "Left means sinister!"

I said in response, "I'm not superstitious."

He said, "I don't care."

Therefore, a guy who now signs

the cross with his right hand!

(I wonder if my left hand knows what I am doing.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oct 26 - Matthew 6:2

Jesus said,

“So when you give to the needy,

do not announce it with trumpets,

as the hypocrites do in the

synagogues and on the streets,

to be honored by others.

Truly I tell you, they have

received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:2

Matthew 6 begins with a theme:

Trumpets are bad!

Wait. Maybe Jesus isn't condemning a whole section of the band. More likely he's saying that "tooting our own horn" is prideful. (And he goes on to say convictingly that pridefulness has no lasting place in the kingdom of heaven.)

Jesus is telling us that we can do the right things ... for the very wrong reasons.

Giving is the right thing. It blesses God's kingdom. God calls us to give to the temple treasury. It pays the priests who preach the word. It takes care of the temple grounds (our place for grace). It blesses our community, doing good things like teaching our children and caring for orphans and widows. According to God, this is "the right thing."

But it is possible to do it for the wrong reasons.

At a church that a friend of mine served, the richest man in the congregation wouldn't give a penny all year. But on the last day of the year, he would call the pastor, "Preacher, how much are we behind at the end of the year? Let me catch the church up."

It wasn't generous. It was prideful and manipulative. He wanted to make sure the congregation knew that the church was in the black precisely because of him. And he wanted the pastor to be under his thumb – essentially, "if you don't do what I want this year, I won't bail you out at the end."

Mr. Hornblower might have given more than any other single member in the church. But he had more to give. Jesus says here, and in many in various ways other passages, that heaven prefers the generosity of poor widows (and the like) who give two little coins from the heart.

The heart is the measure of the true gift. Not the amount.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who's learned to

give and give, more and more,

until quiet generosity

finally feels really good

(and then life begins

to get really good!)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oct 24-25 - Matthew 5:38-39

Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said,

‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek,

turn to them the other cheek also.

Matthew 5:38-39

"An eye for an eye" was originally a good thing. It outlawed escalation. It used to be, "If you kill my chicken, I'll burn down your house and take your daughter for my slave."

Yes, the outlawing of escalation was originally a good thing. "Reciprocity" was better. "If you kill my chicken, I'll reciprocate by taking one of your chickens."

But think about that word "reciprocity." According to my online Oxford dictionary, "reciprocity" is "the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit."

My reciprocating by taking just one chicken in response to your one-chicken-offense may indeed stop a wild escalation and a generational feud, but it's not true reciprocity. There's no mutual benefit.

And that's Jesus' goal!

Instead of escalation or a-payback-form-of-reciprocity, Jesus is advocating humbleness, gentleness, forgiveness.

Turning the other cheek isn't weak and passive. It takes a strength of character. It says, "I'm legally entitled to anger and recompense: I choose instead understanding and relationship."

Sure, there are those who will treat that as weakness. They will seek to take advantage of you in business deals and courtroom settings. In a worldly sense, they will often win.

But our standard isn't worldly.

Or is it?

That's a choice you make -- or not -- everyday. Do you choose grudges and escalation? Do you choose payback-reciprocity and getting what's yours? Or do you choose forgiveness and relationship?

In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn't want to be

like a reciprocating saw --

I don't want to go up-and-down,

push-and-pull, rip-and-tear.

That may be good for demolition,

but I want to be more like wood glue,

sticking disparate things back together

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oct 23 - Matthew 5:36

Jesus said,

And do not swear

by your head, for

you cannot make

one hair white or black.

Matthew 5:36


Tucked in the middle of yesterday's verses was a little gem. 


In the context of "do not swear falsely, and Jesus saying instead, "let your word to be 'yes yes' or 'no no,' Jesus also said, "do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black."


Over the years, my black hair has turned white. But I didn't do it. Father Time took care of that for me. (Wait! Read that again: "Time" did it. And my Father in Heaven - not some mythological creature called Father Time – knit my genes together in such a way that gray hair was my destiny.


I did not change my hair to white. And I certainly cannot change it back to black ... or actually brown. (Dyes, of course, are a temporary mask, not a literal transformation.)


What Jesus is saying is, "Why on earth are you swearing by your own name and in your own power? You are temporary. You are fragile. You don't have any real power except your own good intentions. And if you claim a power to follow through absolutely -- a power that only truly belongs to God -- that is more than conceit. It is a form of blaspheme. 


Yes, I want people to give me their word. And yes, I want people to trust my word. But mostly I want to follow people who humble themselves before God and trust in his Word and his power ... whose yes is yes because of Christ's overwhelming call to integrity and not their own fragile desires. (And, indeed, I want people to trust Christ-in-me, not just fallible me.)


In Christ's Love,

a guy who, in this silly season

of politics, wants candidates

to quit swearing by themselves

-- "You have my word" --

and wants them instead to start

following God's Word



Oct 22 - Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus said,

"Again, you have heard that it

was said to those of ancient times,

‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out

the vows you have made to the Lord.’

But I say to you, Do not swear at all,

either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

or by the earth, for it is his footstool,

or by Jerusalem, for it is

the city of the great King. ...

Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’;

anything more than this comes

from the evil one.

Matthew 5:33-37

For days, we have been watching Jesus interpret the law.

He states – or restates – the law legally. And then he interprets it spiritually. He is not re-interpreting the law, but showing where the world (in general) and the Pharisees (in particular) have interpreted God's law wrongly. Yes, he is not re-interpreting the law; the Son of God is showing us how to interpret it rightly!

Apparently a hypocritical tradition had developed by the time of Jesus: 

·       If you swore an oath to God, you were absolutely required to keep it. (God forbid that you break an oath to God, right?!) 

·       But if you swore a general oath – one not-to-God or in-any-other-name you were allowed to break it. 

Do you see the hypocrisy?! The tradition had evolved to officially condone lying!

Jesus vehemently rejected this, "Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one."

Is your word always as clear as 'Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’? Or are you inadvertently aligning yourself with the evil one? (Ouch.)

In Christ's Love,

a guy who threw a "no-no"

is his only Little League

appearance as a pitcher

(That's a no-hitter!)

Note: That's not bragging.

I missed the plate so badly

that they would have needed

a nine-foot bat to hit my pitches.

It was a short pitching career.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Oct 21 - Matthew 5:31-32

Jesus said,

“It was also said,

‘Whoever divorces his wife,

let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

But I say to you that anyone

who divorces his wife,

except on the ground of unchastity,

causes her to commit adultery;

and whoever marries a

divorced woman commits adultery."

Matthew 5:31-32

When we were in Israel, the Beduin lifestyle was explained to us.

The Beduins are a nomadic group of Middle Eastern shepherds, and a typical Beduin man has three wives. Hmmm.

But don’t worry about the poor guy. If he gets tired of one, all he has to do is (something like) say "I divorce you" three times. Instantly the marriage is over (and a new bride can be brought into the tent).

Interestingly, many modern Americans are treating marriage only slightly more seriously.

The modern focus of marriage is on "me, myself, and I." And if you are making me, myself, and I happy, then we should stay married. But if me, myself, and I find something more satisfying, the principle of self-fulfillment demands that me, myself, and I should seek out a new soulmate to -- in a more satisfying way -- fulfill my heart (or at least tickle my loins ... as the case often is).

Fortunately, the Biblical picture of marriage does not follow the paradigm of me, myself, and I. It follows instead the shape and paradigm of the cross. Though directed originally at the husband, I believe both husbands and wives are called to "love your [spouse] as Christ loved the church."

In other words, the heart of marriage is sacrificial love ... not selfish desires.

It's about "what can I do for you" ... not "what can you do for me."

Yes, some spouses will inevitably try to take advantage of that ... but most will respond with joy and will reciprocate with wholehearted service for you too (when Jesus' sacrificial model of the two becoming one is joyfully followed).

Wait ... let's try that last thought again: Yes, some spouses will inevitably try to take advantage of the other person's sacrificial love ... but that's why a Christian marriage is not just between two people. That's why Christian marriage includes three -- you, me, and Jesus. If Christ is the focal point and the goal -- instead of "me first" or even "we two" -- then his love will transform us both.

·       We'll adopt his priorities.

·       We'll learn his forgiveness.

·       We seek to serve rather than be served.

·       We'll discover the power to begin putting sin, carnality, and selfish desires behind us.

·       We will see our spouse through Christ's eyes -- meaning, we will see with renewed wonder.

·       We will begin to truly live.

Jesus' sharpened older teachings on divorce -- no quick and random dismissals like the Beduins are allowed. Rather, he taught us that marriage is designed to not only protect marriage ... but to reveal our own weaknesses. If we try to do marriage on our own, we’ll eventually fail and fall. We will make a hopeless mess of things. Therefore, we need a Savior! Not only to save and transform us eternally ... but to save and transform our marriages day-by-day!

In Christ's Love,

a guy who is an awesome husband

(Ha! Not because of what I can do,

but because of the Awesome One

who makes me way better than just me)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Oct 20 - Matthew 5:31-32

Jesus said,

“It was also said,

‘Whoever divorces his wife,

let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

But I say to you that anyone

who divorces his wife,

except on the ground of unchastity,

causes her to commit adultery;

and whoever marries a

divorced woman commits adultery."

Matthew 5:31-32

Having just come from a Sunday School class on marriage (and divorce), I'm sensitive today to how I write this. In fact, I will take two days to write on this topic.

Tomorrow will focus on Jesus' uncompromising call to work on and for your marriage.

But first, I must address today an accidental fault of churches: Too many of the victims of divorce don't feel welcome anymore in church.

The church must be family friendly. In an age when the family is under attack by all the forces of culture, church must be a place of hope, refuge, teaching, and celebration for family.

But in the midst of this focus (and celebration) the "victims" of divorce (often an abandoned spouse who didn't wish for this separation) often feel unwelcome in the pews that once felt so comfortable.

They sometimes feel like lepers. Untouchable because their peers don't know what to say.

They sometimes feel like they're wearing a scarlet "D," judged for something that isn't their fault or desire.

They feel like their alone, because too many of us hide our sins and insecurities, hide our own brokenness and past disappointments (even divorce) under a mask of present piety.

They feel irrelevant when the church (very rightly) celebrates marriage.

They feel hopelessly judged by scripture whenever passages like this talk about the sinfulness of divorce.

Therefore, it is your job -- as a good church member -- to reach out to EVERYONE around you. You may or may not know their story, but you can offer friendship. You can assume the best of them.

When you find out about a grief (including the grief of separation), you can be quick with a hug.

It's not your job to judge. It's your job to love.

Generally speaking, your pastors are probably working (behind the scenes) to make sure that the neighbor at the other end of your pew is in a biblical state of renewal -- whether they're the victim who needs healing or a fellow sinner who needs the healing power of repentance. Your job isn't to judge that. It's to love.

And the same is true of the people in your neighborhoods and workplaces. We must love ..: and yes, we can do so without condoning a culture of easy divorce. In fact, that is what we are called to do.

In Christ's Love,

a pastor who grieves over

all the pains surrounding divorce

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Oct 19 - Matthew 5:29

Jesus said,

And if your right hand 
causes you to sin, 
cut it off and throw it away; 
it is better for you to lose 
one of your members 
than for your whole body 
to go into hell.

Matthew 5:29

Yesterday, I promised you a story.

Look back to yesterday's devotional

to more fully appreciate the context!

Question: Imagine you're walking along the edge of a cliff, and you trip and fall. Someone throws down a lifeline to save you. Does it matter whether you're attached to the top of the rope, the bottom of the rope, or just that you're attached?


The same is true with life. Sin trips us. We fall off the edge of a cliff. If Jesus doesn't throw us a lifeline -- which he did with his cross -- we'll crash and burn. Literally. Without Jesus' substitutionary sacrifice, scripture teaches repeatedly that our whole bodies will burn in the fires of hell. 

So here's the question: Does it matter where on Jesus' rope (called the cross) it is that we catch ahold of this lifeline? 


The answer is no. The drug addicted prostitute who reaches up from the pit and cries, "Jesus, save me," is just as saved as the Mother Theresa's and saints of the world. 

So the answer is no ... except when it's yes!

It actually does matter where we are -- positionally -- upon that rope. Not from God's perspective, of course. Grace is eternally grace, right?! 

But ... from our limited human perspective, it matters tremendously where we position our hearts along that lifeline. 

Every object has gravity. The bigger the object is, the more gravity it has. The massive sun has more gravity, for example, than our comparatively little earth. So why don't we float away from earth and get sucked up into the sun? Because we're closer to the earth. 

Jesus has more gravity than sin, hell, and death. But when we fall off the cliff -- and we all fall because we all sin -- and when we only allow ourselves to grab on near the ground, we find ourselves more drawn to the gravity of the world than the lift in Christ's light. 

And when we're hanging -- often intentionally compromised -- by a low-hanging thread, we're liable to let go, thinking that the ground below us looks solid. But what's below us is sinking sand. Death. Destruction. 


But when we're hanging higher -- closer to Christ -- we're more likely to climb higher. His "gravity" (his truth and light and power) will captivate us. 

In Christ's Love,

a guy who is proud to be

attached to Christ with anyone,

including drug addicts

and prostitutes



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lyndy's Baptism This Monday, 7pm - You are Invited


F R O M   P A S T O R   N A T E   A N D   G R E E R


Dear Spirit of Joy family,


Greer and I would like to invite you to Lyndy’s baptism!  It will be this Monday the 19th at 7pm.  Afterwards there will be cookies and punch to celebrate!


I know this is late notice, and we had hoped to do it on a Sunday, but here’s the really exciting news: my Aunt Lyndy (for whom baby Lyndy is named) is going to be be in town!  We didn’t think she would be able to be out from California to attend but she’s going to be available this one evening, so we’re jumping on it so she can be there! 


We sincerely hope you can come, celebrate this sacrament with us, and also get to meet our family members who will be there. 


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Nate and Greer


Oct 17-18 - Matthew 5:29

Jesus said,

And if your right hand

causes you to sin,

cut it off and throw it away;

it is better for you to lose

one of your members

than for your whole body

to go into hell.

Matthew 5:29

We get in our own way.

Our eyes wander and we lust. We covet and want and our hands steal things. We feet walk us into the wrong places. We mind dwells on the wrong things.

Cut it out!

And yes, you should read "cut it out" in either of two important ways.

·       First, cut off or out every source for your sin.

·       More importantly -- just stop! (Indeed, as I said to my boys when they were acting out, "Hey, kids! Cut it out!)

Let's be clear ... With statements like this, Jesus isn't contradicting the fact that were saved by grace and suggesting that we rely on our works to keep our whole body out of hell. No.

He's simply revealing a simple truth: Our conduct often reveals the state of our heart. And we dare not let anything -- including our hands or eyes -- lead us into terminal temptation.

(For Monday’s devotional, I'll tell you my favorite story to go along with this truth!)

In Christ's Love,

a guy who needs a hair cut

(I'm not sure how my few hairs

are causing me to sin,

but I'll be glad to cut them off)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oct 16 - Matthew 5:29

Jesus said,

If your right eye causes

you to sin, tear it out

and throw it away;

it is better for you to

lose one of your members

than for your whole body

to be thrown into hell.

Matthew 5:29

"Mom, why aren't there more one-eyed men,"

That was the question that Pastor Fran's son asked one day. And in the context of "lusting in one's heart" and pornography, statistics reveal that even in the church we ought to be a nation of cyclopses. (Male and female.)

The scriptural warnings are dire ...

·       let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. - Heb 13:4

·       Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers ... will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Cor 6:10

·       For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure ... has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. - Eph 5:5

·       For this is the will of God ... that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. - 1 Thes 4:3-5

·       If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out 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. - Jesus himself in Matt 5:29


Those are frightening words in a culture as perverse as pagan Rome ... and with pornography as quick as a click away.

Freedom begins with an even more important word from Jesus, though. His very first sermon and definitive message: "repent and believe the Good News."

The Good News is forgiveness and freedom. As its says in 1 John 1:8-9, "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

That's the freedom! But it begins with Jesus' first word, "repent."

·       Repenting is turning away from our sin and turning toward God.

·       Repenting is turning off the tempting computer, and returning to the simple, wonderful gift of our wives.

·       Repenting is valuing real relationships over images that are nothing more than seductive lies. (Sure these images have a power. Men's brains, especially, are wired to be stimulated this way. But ultimately pornography is a blinding lie. They makes us less. They make our real relationships less. It eats a slow hole from within. It destroys.)

Repent. Renew. Restore. Rejoice more fully.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who hopes he doesn't see more

Matthew 5:29, one-eyed people at church ...

but more 1 John 1:9, repentant freedom fighters

with better real relationships

Oct 15 - Matthew 5:28

Jesus said,

“everyone who looks

at a woman with lust

has already committed

adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5:28

Russell Brand is a wild, crude, rude, and historically misogynistic comedian ... which makes him a fascinating commentator on the dangers of pornography. 

A few observations about the modern obsession with lusting in our hearts, and then I'll return to this unlikely cultural commentator. 

In modern America, one is eight online searches is for erotic content. And it's not just "the world" that's "addicted." This is a very Christian problem too. 

John Stonestreet of
Breakpoint says, "You might want to sit down for this—Barna [Polling Group recently] found that 64 percent of American men and 20 percent of women view pornography at least monthly. And for Christian men, that number is 55 percent."

More than half of even Christian men. It's an epidemic that is cheapening real relationships, establishing unrealistic expectations, and destroying marriages.  And even a notorious bad boy comedian recognizes the destruction. 

Read the article.

Watch the video.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who is vulnerable

... because that's

the world we live in

and the flesh we live in

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oct 14- Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said,

'You shall not commit adultery.’

But I say to you that everyone

who looks at a woman with lust

has already committed adultery

with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

We have a generation of chronic adulterers.

Why? Because pornography is a murderous modern addiction. 

It devours fine men. It is increasingly seducing more and more women. It is undermining true intimacy and too many marriages. It is even quicksand for strong pastors and legions of "good" churchgoers. 

We are a nation of addicts. 

And our children are the pawns of the deceitful logic that what one or two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their own business. 


·       Because the easy access to porn is enslaving our children. The online sites funded by this addiction aren’t just frequented by of-age adults. Too many children are too addicted at way too young an age. Thus, our children are our pawns. 

·       Because pornography is ruining real adult relationships with unrealistic expectations and the counterfeit satisfaction of intimacy. The net effect includes more out-of-wedlock sex, fewer marriages, and later more divorce. This means, in part, that because of pornography there's more fatherless children. (And this means children are again pawns as fatherless households are one of the biggest predictors to things like poverty and drug use.) 

·       As people use more and more porn, it takes more and more “stimulation” to elicit the same "effect." This leads to increasingly "less traditional viewings" ... a spiral of addiction that too often progresses to child porn. (Are we complicit in making children pawns even when that isn't our flavor of the moment?)

·       Similarly with higher stakes stimulation comes a rise in prostitution. And who is being used and trafficked most? Teens and children. They're the most vulnerable pawns of the growing sexual addiction in our culture. Internet pornography directly fuels sex trafficking and slavery – including the slavery of children. 

·       Furthermore, compromised adults abuse children. 

·       And likewise compromised teens abuse children too.

·       Compromised teens also abuse and cheapen one another. 

We need to quit winking at the titilation that defines our culture. 

We need to quit (passively) approving the deceitful logic that what one or two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their own business. 

We need to confess our own vulnerability and guard our own hearts. 

We need to get help for our addiction. (And statistics say that probably half of you reading this a compromised. It’s not time to be silent. It’s time to be freed.)

In Christ's Love,

a guy who found it

nearly impossible to stay pure

in an age when access to mess

was a thousand times more difficult

than it is today

... and a pastor who wants

to help us all do the impossible:

stay pure in an impure world

(Call me if you want help.

It’s confidential.)