Bible

The “No-Touch” Policy

When I was in middle school, the administration instituted a No-Touch policy. I can’t speak to whether or not there was some kind of increase in physical altercations or anything morally inappropriate going on among the members of the student body, but it was decided that touching should be outlawed. You might imagine how all the young folks poked fun at the dictate; I wouldn’t be surprised if the policy actually caused the reverse intended effect. Nonetheless I think there’s a lot of wisdom in such a policy; I actually wish it was something that dating Christians considered more seriously. Ah yes, the always interesting subject of what Christians in pre-martial relationships should or shouldn’t do. Care to know where I stand? Want to be challenged? Ready for a perhaps intense discussion? Whether you’re a man or woman, young or old, even in a relationship or not… I wish to present the platform that the Bible supports the idea of dating or engaged Christians not touching each other.

To touch, or not to touch?

To touch, or not to touch?

Now before diving into my points, I will answer the question that may very well be on your mind already. Yes, Christine (my wife) and I touched before being pronounced husband and wife. But before you come at me with your hypocrisy pitchforks, I readily confess it wasn’t the right thing to do. It also wasn’t exactly serious, but we did touch. Early on though we made an effort to reign in that area of our relationship. I composed a three-page document detailing what I thought were quality principles to govern ourselves by based on what the Bible teaches. Feel free to download the finished product here actually, just know that the contents are by no means perfect; we didn’t follow everything to a T, and you might even get a chuckle or two from what I came up with. I want to direct your focus nonetheless to the first Do not bullet under the first major point, which reads: [Do not…] Touch each other, at all.

dating_rule

I put this together over 3 years ago.

Christine and I praise the Lord that our purposeful compromising hardly went further than leaning on each other’s foreheads while we were doing wedding and honeymoon planning. Are you thinking, “Why’s that such a big deal?” I’ll spend the rest of this article trying to explain my case.

I was floored to read that author Kevin DeYoung agrees with me about having a no-touch [dating] policy in chapter eight of his book The Hole in Our Holiness. We both think that Christians in general don’t give the idea much thought, and especially the millennial generation. Yet the truth is ladies and gentlemen that dating is a mere commitment to find out if you will ultimately become committed. It saddens me so much to see Christians conducting their relationships in the same ways unsaved people do. They hold hands. They hug intimately. They press up against each other. They pet one another. They even kiss. And that’s just what you see in public. I shudder to consider what sometimes goes on in secret. And why is it that parents and the church seem to frown upon this conduct less and less? I suggest that we’ve allowed ourselves to be more concerned about the opinion of dating Christians than the need to hold such Christians accountable to the teaching of Scripture. It’s no secret that more and more young believers are giving themselves over to pre-marital intimacy, and the Lord is not pleased!

Perhaps the number one reason dating or engaged Christians should not touch each other is for the simple fact that they don’t belong to each other. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Someone you’re interested in always belongs to God and is someone else’s child before they’re ever your husband or wife. And I won’t agonize over the semantics of using the terms boyfriend and girlfriend. The fact remains that beginning to date someone doesn’t suddenly make them exclusively yours. And you won’t find any support in Scripture for intimacy prior to marriage. What you do find is verses like I Timothy 5:1-2, below.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

I know the concept of dating is nowhere to be found in what Paul wrote to Timothy. However, I believe the above verses specifically address the issue of intimacy prior to marriage since all Christians are commanded to regard each other in all purity. This is what God says. So those of you who think pre-marital, intentional touching isn’t a big deal, please explain to me how the last three words of those verses alone ever begin to condone hand-holding, hugging, kissing, or anything else along such lines for dating Christians? Unbelievers engage in those ways because they don’t have a hint of interest in doing things God’s way! But God’s redeemed are different, and thus their relationships should be. What’s more valuable…the opinion someone (Christian or not) has about purity in a dating relationship, or what God thinks of our behavior? I don’t know about you, but I’m inclined to fear the One able to destroy the soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28)!

I also can’t help but be disappointed when I hear or know of dating Christians that claim they can control themselves. Well, God speaks to the impossibility of that in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Sure, that verse is addressed to Israel, but it rings no less true for any human being…even born-again Christians. Why, when we fallen humans are so quick to rationalize our sin, do we not think there’s something terribly wrong when dating Christians are touching one another? There’s one word to describe the attitude that you can control yourself in a pre-martial relationship where touching is permitted: prideful. And you might as well toss dangerous in there too.

Another thought… Why should a Christian want on their conscience the knowledge that they were at all intimate with someone they were dating, especially if the relationship ultimately ceases? This goes for the guy and the gal. A believer’s job is to help protect the purity of whomever he/she is dating for the sake of the person that will ultimately marry him or her, not to take advantage of him or her. If it actually is you who becomes married to said person…wonderful, but what if it isn’t? Does this reality not cross our minds anymore? There’s plenty of time and opportunity to figure out intimacy after the wedding; God never tells us to try to figure out physical compatibility before-hand. And there’s a reason for that; sex is meant above all else for God’s glory, and second to bless a married man and woman (Hebrews 13:4).

I’ll point out at least one more verse about this subject, Romans 13:14.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

If you’re a Christian dating another Christian, I challenge you to explain how touching your boyfriend or girlfriend is anything other than self-gratification. Allow me to save you the time and trouble; you can’t. And yes, I regret even the forehead-leaning that Christine and I did a few times. I would have never done that with her outside of dating, and I sure wouldn’t have wanted someone else that she might have dated to do so either. Yet somehow it seems when Christians can say they’ve arrived to the point of dating someone, that somehow becomes a license for them to be licentious. It’s as though we think, “Alright, we got to the dating stage; we can do whatever we want now and act like we’re married!” Well, I think I speak for many other Christians when I say it’s great to see a believing man or woman begin dating, as it seems to be a process that more and more avoid nowadays. However, I believe with my whole heart that God isn’t the least bit impressed when couples dishonor the marriage bed by acting as though they’re already there. I don’t need to get into all the obvious physical reactions that take place when people, let alone dating Christians, touch; I’m here to simply plead that you stop if you are…or that you encourage others to stop if you’re observing it. My goal here certainly is not to condemn anybody, but simply to encourage that we get back to pleasing the Lord with our relationships…not ourselves.

My primary motivation for wanting to discuss this touchy subject is because I’ve been there. I’m responsible for making many ungodly decisions in years past, and committing many foolish sins against women. I praise God those sins are under the blood of Christ, but that doesn’t mean God suddenly reels in the necessary consequences. The details of what I’ve done aren’t important, but I understand at least somewhat how a man’s mind operates; and most others are likely similar to me as far as what they would do in the moment. Yet each of those moments in my life was a transgression against a holy God that clearly commanded me to not do what I was doing. This is an impassioned plea for you to wake up and smell the immoral coffee. A hand-hold leads to a hug. A hug leads to more physical closeness. Physical closeness leads to a kiss…and you get the picture. Go ahead and deny; assert that this doesn’t apply to everybody. But I’m not stupid; I know what the Bible teaches and what it says about the human heart. And above all else, God knows everything we do, and surely is not mocked (Galatians 6:7). If you’re dating and truly want to please God instead of yourself, I urge you to heed this warning before something awful happens!

Do you still think it is OK for dating Christians to touch? If so, why? How do you react to the Bible verses and principles I pointed out? (There could be many more, mind you.) How about those of you in a relationship? What do you think about all this? Are you perhaps observing dating Christians touching? I’d like to hear from you as well! In the end, in spite of the decisions my wife and I made prior to being married…I will always support a no-touch policy for Christians who are dating. No sin; no regrets.

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A Brief Response to Ken Ham & Bill Nye Debate

Yesterday, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” joined Answers in Genesis president and co-founder Ken Ham on-stage at the wonderful Creation Museum to debate the concept, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” If you didn’t watch the live online stream and still wish to see it, the archive recording is available below. Bill Nye participated to support the theory of evolution, while Ken Ham defended the biblical [Genesis] account of creation as pertains to the origins of life and material. I enjoyed watching the debate, and below is a brief list of my personal reactions.

Ken Ham/Bill Nye Creation/Evolution Debate

1) Alleluia! Praise God, millions have heard the good news!
I laud brother Ken Ham for his many instances of sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ so boldly, clearly, and necessarily…with bits of personal testimony. I was touched and full of praise to our almighty God when Ken made such comments, because he couldn’t have had a more perfect opportunity to offer them to such a wide audience. Many now have heard the good news of Jesus Christ come to earth as the Son of God to die for filthy sinners such as I!

I do wish that Ken would have asserted from the get-go when Mr. Nye started making his “Ken Ham’s model” and “Ken Ham’s flood” comments that creation and the flood, etc, are God’s doing and responsibility. Bill’s real issue is with the Bible and its Author, not Ken Ham and/or AiG. Ken did clarify that towards the end of the evening, but it would have been helpful to do so earlier. Alas, no debater is ever perfect.

2) Bill Nye clearly knows nothing about the Bible.
I thought it was very interesting, given that this was a debate, that Mr. Nye couldn’t demonstrate knowing much of anything about what the Bible actually says or teaches. Ken Ham obviously knows plenty about evolution and associated ideas. Bill’s most ardent comments to refer to God’s word came in the form of “That ancient book written 30 centuries ago translated into American English.”, as if that gives evolution any credence. He even tried to accuse Ken Ham of cherry-picking verses and passages that only he liked in order to support creationism. I thought this was very sad, and it’s really indicative of the atheist community at large. Most that deny the existence of God seem to know nothing about the Bible, or argue against it based on things they’ve merely heard, or cherry-pick verses themselves that the majority of the time are taken out of context in order to support their claims.

3) Brother Ken and Bill Nye both demonstrated that man will never come to know everything.

Then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
Ecclesiastes 8:17

Ken Ham is perfectly content knowing man won’t discover the majority of the universe’s facts. It’s just the way it is; God intended it that way, as you read from Ecclesiastes above. Sadly, the self-proclaimed reasonable man, Mr. Nye, declared that all his joy comes from the endless pursuit of this knowledge. And for what? Sure, many discoveries are wonderful to come upon and do well to benefit society, but if Bill is correct in that there’s nothing left after this life…what’s the point? Ken asked that as well. Thankfully there is an eternity of indescribable joy awaiting believers in Jesus Christ as we fellowship in Heaven, and I sincerely hope that The Science Guy will come to know Jesus as his Savior and thus join us for it!

4) Believers must be courteous and gracious, no matter how much unbelievers scoff and mock.
I was encouraged that neither Bill Nye nor Ken Ham ever resorted to character assassination during the 2.5 hours or so of speaking. I wasn’t encouraged by Mr. Nye’s arrogant and ignorant scoffing at the Bible, and belittling of Ken and “his followers” by basically suggesting that young earth creationists are loopy whacko-birds. This is a great reminder for Christians. I really wouldn’t be surprised if there were chat-rooms across the internet filled with Christians and non-Christians engaged in bitter slandering, being altogether cantankerous to one another during the debate. But the Ham/Nye forum serves as a needed reminder that Jesus Christ commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and to show perfect courtesy to all (Titus 3:2). Scoffing right back at scoffers does not please God. Mocking mockers right back dishonors the name of our Savior. Truly born-again Christians will do well to remember this.

5) The absolute truth of God’s word will never change no matter how many debates take place here on earth.
It’s so comforting that Jesus Christ [and the truth of His word] is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). That means we never have to worry about debates, and whether the Christian involved manages to win or not, or if they looked good. We can leave the silly mainstream media outlets to analyze that nonsense. Yet the truth of the Bible will never waver; its contents will always be the truth, even if only one Christian were to be living on earth at some point. So though Ken Ham is a gifted apologist and was unlikely to falter in presenting his arguments, I hope no follower of Christ actually worried about the reputation of God by the time all was said and done last night.

Altogether, I’m so thankful that Ken Ham reached out to Bill Nye “The Science Guy” to do this, knowing full well that there would very likely be no change of heart on Bill’s part. That wasn’t Ken’s responsibility anyway, nor is it his ability. That’s the Spirit’s job, and God’s decision whether or not Mr. Nye ever repents and believes in Jesus Christ. For now, Nye will continue in his God-given days convinced that he’s the reasonable one and the authority on all things scientific. But let us Christians pray that this man will humble himself before the God he’s rejecting and put his trust in Jesus Christ. Let us also continue to intercede for brother Ken and AiG as they press on to share the truth of God’s word as it relates to both observational and historical science. Last night was all about authority, which lies clearly and only with God’s word.

Recommended book: The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years (Ken Ham)

A Response to “5 Questions to Ask Before Posting To Social Media”

I’m often pondering how I can use social media in a godly way. It’s not that I’m clueless; I simply want to please God when I post. But it never hurts to have some of the holes in your understanding filled by others. And I’m thankful that Cara Joyner has helped save me from my usual mental over-complicating of such things in her recent blog article “5 Questions to Ask Before Posting To Social Media.” Cara’s brief thoughts in response to her own questions are thought-provoking. Every [millennial] Christian should consider carefully what she says, as ours is a society where more and more of individuals’ lives are becoming public, and not necessarily for the greater good or glory of God. The purpose of this article is to both briefly respond to Cara, while adding questions of my own. And of course I know Cara isn’t the first to bring the issue to light, but her material is a great springboard for further discussion.

facebook

A great tool that can be used in ungodly ways

I’ve been on the wrong side of all Cara’s questions at some point or another, no doubt. Certainly I’ve posted content to Facebook (i.e. what I thought were clever comments, Bible verses, links to articles I’d just read or videos I’d just watched) in the hopes that a mere minute later, someone…anyone on my friends list would at least click that stinkin’ “Like” link and notice me!

Certainly I’ve posted about something I just received, watched, or experienced… wishing that someone would think along-side me, “Wow, that’s so great/cool/wonderful!” You know, that ol’ pat on the back.

Certainly I’ve posted to Facebook for the sole purpose of expressing bitterness about the weather, or disappointment about the outcome of an event I was looking forward to, etc. Surely someone would shake their fist with me at what God had ordained!

Certainly I’ve posted to Facebook because something took place or was said while spending time with family and/or friends that was simply too wonderful or epic to not share! We don’t have to consider the need for it, or care if the other party might at all be opposed to the sharing of such information.

And Cara’s last question, “Is it kind?”, is sadly I think a huge area of concern for Christians. And though I’ve tried to be exceedingly careful on this issue, I know I could dig back through the years recorded on my timeline and find something that would make me blush in shame. Kindness should never be a rare commodity in the online Christian community.

The bottom line is none of the aforementioned points to Jesus Christ. None of it reflects Him. I’m thankful for Cara’s encouraging us to consider these things more biblically. And it’s not as though we simply ought to. We must. Sure, none of us are capable of damaging God’s reputation beyond repair, but we Christians mustn’t be careless either! We are, after all, His ambassadors…and those with whom we interact are led to God by knowing us first. Our online life is just as meaningful to others and impactful as our lives are offline.

And now for my two cents. I know that in my meager realm of 200+ friends, I haven’t seen a fraction of what’s been published overall to Facebook (or any other social media), nor do I know anyone’s heart (as Cara also makes clear)…but I can just as well spot completely un-Christlike content. I want to ask a few questions in the hopes of stirring up this “thinking pot” even more.

1) How is your participation in social media productive for eternity? Do you encourage others to be more like Jesus Christ? Or is social media primarily a vehicle for you to talk about things that don’t ultimately matter, to only discuss the trivial matters of life? There’s room and time for play, but God always comes first. (Matthew 22:37-40)

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

2) Does what you say in online conversations criticize, mock, or outright slander others? Well, that’s what the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and Romans did to our Christ! What happened to showing perfect courtesy to everyone at all times regardless of deserving or circumstances? (Titus 3:2)

to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

3) Are your posts possibly corrupting others? Indecent comments and pictures are a dime a dozen already online. Christians needn’t be adding to the mess. (Ephesians 4:29-30)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

4) Are you complaining with your posts? We see it every day, but complaining clearly violates Scripture. Paul wrote Philippians from prison, but yet was rejoicing in the Lord!  (I Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4)

Rejoice always,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

5) Do you participate in online debates to dominate others? Debating need not end with the inflating of your ego and the hurt of another. Quarreling doesn’t require much thought or effort, but choosing to not insist on the final word or to “be right” will go a long way for God’s kingdom. (Titus 3:9, II Timothy 2:23) 

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Surely you could think of other ungodly uses of Facebook, Twitter, etc, but I won’t go off the deep end. Social media really is just an extension of who you are. You use it either for self-serving purposes, or for others and God’s glory. It will either expose an idol in your heart, or demonstrate how the Lord has worked in your life. Let’s hope the pattern in both cases is the latter for all of us. And in general, don’t be afraid to ask yourself why you use social media. Why… in the moment that you are? The answer is important! Regardless of what we do [with social media] though (I Corinthians 10:31), let it all be for God’s glory.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Not Even A “Hint”

Do you like eggnog? I love it. If you answered yes, how do you like it? Plain Jane? Super sweet? Whipped cream on top? With a caramel twist perhaps? Regardless, I think there’s consensus that no eggnog is quite eggnog without a touch, or as some would say a hint, of the classic spice nutmeg. And it doesn’t take much. A hint is but a mere sprinkling of the brown powdery goodness, and somehow it has the power to transform what’s by default a good consuming experience, to one that’s fantastic.

Goodness!

Now, I hate to do this after introducing a topic that’s so much fun to think about. My apologies. I was trying to soften your smack into the following brick wall. God’s word has something to say about a hint, and for believers, consuming what it’s tied to is anything but fantastic.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Ephesians 5:3, NIV)

This issue hits very close to home for me. That’s because I’m fortunate to be a follower of Jesus Christ who by His grace alone, administered through members of His body, managed to recently escape the clutches of pornography. I was sadly addicted to the junk for 15 years, and only in mid-2009 did the Lord enable me to break free of its iron grip. It didn’t just happen though; I had to choose freedom. Clearly gifted fellow Christian Nick Vitellaro agrees with me on that point as well in his barely longer than 7-minute video on YouTube, Sincerely Freedom (also below), where he offers another sorely needed testimony that’s factual, transparent, and full of hope. I don’t know him and have never talked with him, and I know he’s one of many to speak about immorality, but I appreciate his video very much and usually watch it once a week. I further hope God will also use the remainder of my thoughts to add to the transparency that the body of Christ needs so badly, and challenge you fellow believers to fight this war with much more gusto.

The fact is ladies and gentleman… all manifestations of sexual immorality (immodesty, pornography, crude joking, immoral thinking, etc.) are a terrible danger to the church. This sin is destroying lives, testimonies, marriages, and families every single day. (Not that others don’t, but I’m focusing on immorality.) Are we capable of stopping it? No. Sure, we can be thankful that organizations like the Pink CrossXXX ChurchOne Million Men, Covenant Eyes, etc, exist to rescue sex workers, help those addicted to the industry’s products, and spread the gospel… but Christians will never be able to rid the world of this sin. Only God can destroy sin and change lives, but we can keep the reality of this sin and our battle with it at the forefront of the church’s attention. There’s a reason Ephesians 5:3 is in the Bible. God knew that sexual depravity would be rampant in every generation, because it exists anywhere that humans beings exist.

What is the bottom-line teaching of Ephesians 5:3? What does that phrase, not even a hint, even mean? Well, I assume you at least know of the Peanuts character Pigpen? I reference the dirty fellow to suggest that Ephesians 5:3 commands all Christians to be the exact opposite of him at all times when it comes to stinking of immorality (i.e. not having even a hint). Why? Because sexual sin is rebellion against the God who created sexuality, and it costs the offender and the offended dearly. There’s a reason sexuality is spoken of so much in Scripture! Because cheap sexual thrills deliver only victims, brokenness, and despair. You need to understand this, or else the issue just won’t grab your heart like the apostle Paul intended. To not have even a hint of immorality, you must consider everything you dosay, and think. So, those comments laden with innuendo and double meanings? Those jokes about anything pertaining to sexuality? Provocative name-calling? God says all that is unacceptable. Expressing yourself sexually in a physical way that isn’t tied to the marriage bed? God says that is unacceptable. Wearing clothing that exposes just a little extra chest and thigh? Listening to music with sexual rhythms and lyrics? Flirting with someone not your spouse? The Bible says that all is unacceptable. And perhaps the most overwhelming of all… all that mentally undressing of people you consider “hot”, or those thoughts of the sexual gymnastics you’d like to make that “hot” person perform for you? The Bible says all that is completely unacceptable. Believers must be [sexually] holy because God is holy! How have you fared in all this?

Does God actually believe that His elect will never be guilty of this? Did God ever expect us to never be guilty? No, but that doesn’t cause Him to diminish His perfectly holy standard in any way. If He did, there’s no telling how much worse the problem would be in society. It’s bad enough as it is! We don’t need any reason to think less of our sinfulness.


Not the idea for believers!

Wow, could we get any more depressing around here?

Thankfully, there is of course hope in the grace of Jesus Christ, Who died to crush sin’s dominion over us. As a believer, sexual sin need not have dominion over you, and to have regular victory over it is possible because of the cross. Notice how I said regular though, because permanent victory will only occur when a believer goes to glory. Until then, I challenge you to consider what I believe is the best way to act upon the grace of our Savior if you’re desperate to break free from some sort of sexual sin. You won’t like it, and you’ve likely heard/seen it from many other Christians, but really… you must choose to be helped by someone in the body of Christ! You must allow Christ to use someone to help change you, to place you on the path to rebuilding your relationship with the Lord! It’s just impossible to do this alone, because the flesh is weak. It is incapable. We often don’t do the right thing, even if we want to. (Romans 7) This is why you need to go to someone, because God uses people to snatch them (i.e. especially Christians struggling with [sexual] sin) out of the fire (Jude 23).

Wildly promising God every day that you’ll never do it again is a losing strategy. Clearing your website history only removes the bread crumb trail, and your activities are probably infecting your device of choice with a ton of spyware. Setting up blocks to various websites is a dud, because you’ll always find more. No amount of reading the Bible for the sake of reading it will rescue you. Anything else that you’ve tried, or are trying now, is a losing strategy. This is why you need help. Your mind is damaged, altered even, as is your heart and soul. And the sooner you realize that most members of Christ’s body would be more than happy, truly eager, to guide you on the path to healing…rather than judgmental and condescending, the quicker you’ll get on that path. All you have to do is open your mouth. I did that with the assistant pastor of my church, who at the time I didn’t know for longer than five minutes or five sentences. Who could be the one Christ is directing you toward?

Realistically, I don’t expect the moment you’re done reading that you’ll suddenly contact someone and spill your guts. I understand the sinful nature with respect to immorality too well to know that’s not typically how it works. I’m not stupid. You will want to continue hiding. Despite how miserable it is, you love your sin. You don’t want to give up how good immorality feels in spite of the guilt that tears at your heart, mind, and soul. You think it’s fun to watch those “hot” sex acts that the unfortunate women in porn are made to do, despite they’re being very unhealthy and abused. How do I know all this? Because I hid, loved the sin, loved how good it felt, was racked with guilt for 15 years, and thought most of the acts I saw were “hot”. Am I perfect in this area now? Absolutely not. Sometimes I still lose as far as what goes on in my head. This is a daily battle, and I’m fighting right along-side you! (II Corinthians 10:3-6)

Quit playing the hiding game!
Quit playing the hiding game!

You need help, as I did. You need to return to Christ from your sinful addiction, as I did. I pray often that millennials who are still eyeballs deep in their lustful indulgences will take advantage of the obvious tools God has placed in their lives. Most are too scared (read: prideful) to take the initial steps toward being restored to their Savior. I don’t say these things to criticize, or to put myself on a pedestal. What I actually do is ache for every one of you who are in this boat. I hurt so much, and cry on occasion, because I know now first-hand the joy of what it means to express oneself sexually in the way God intended, and I hate that so many are missing out on that. The devil’s lies have convinced millions that unbiblical sexual acts are good, and that there’s no consequences to engaging in them. He is very skilled at making sin look perfectly harmless. It’s been in his playbook since Genesis 3. Yet the truth is that the devil isn’t trying to promote God’s reality, but twist it so that millions are dragged into eternal torment with him. If you’ve bought the lie, just as I did, it’s tearing you apart.

Like my friend Nick V. says, “Freedom is a choice”. It won’t just happen. You can’t be “smart enough” to gain freedom because sanctification isn’t an intellectual exercise. You can’t be “regretful” enough and/or “punish” yourself enough to break free because repentance is taking God’s side against your own and making your decisions based on that. You must choose to allow Jesus Christ back to the throne of your heart and let Him stay there. And no individual Christian is strong enough to do that on his/her own. That’s why you need someone else’s help! God works through His people. Noticed the idea yet? It’s probably hard for you to see and understand if your addiction is severe enough, but if you make the right choice in the future, it will become more apparent. Sin blinds and confuses, but thankfully the hope we have in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross is more powerful than anything along these lines.

I conclude with one simple, earnest plea. Fellow believer, trapped in sexual sin… please, get yourself help. Believers that are not, please pray for those that are. And hopefully I also didn’t ruin the next time you have some delicious eggnog.

Recommended books: sex isn’t the problem, lust is (Joshua Harris)Finally Free (Heath Lambert)The Hole In Our Holiness (Kevin DeYoung)every man’s battle

Without A Plan, I’m Not In The Word

Lord-willing, it’s going to be 2014 before we know it. The calendar seems to flip faster every year, and our to-do lists don’t seem to get any shorter. That’s why I hope Christians, millennials especially, are investing proper time in a relationship with the Christ they claim to follow. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow after all. As for me and this topic matter… In the past four years, God’s grace has enabled me to grow leaps and bounds. I use that terminology because my life prior to 2009 less than resembled a true follower of Christ. Sometimes I still think that’s the truth, but I shall refrain from self-pity. In any case, this growth hasn’t just happened; it’s required expending serious time and energy into studying God’s word.

How are you faring along these lines fellow millennial? Are you regularly spending time with God, gleaning from His Word and inviting it to examine your heart? Reality check. If you aren’t; you won’t grow. To be like his master, a disciple must learn from him. If you’re not listening, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Nothing can replace reading what God has said and revealed to us in the Bible with respect to experiencing spiritual growth. On a humorous note…I was skimming a blog piece recently about a similar topic. The author described a true scenario in which a young man (likely a millennial) approached him in church one day asking, “Can you recommend a good book that will help me grow spiritually?” The author pointed straight at the book already tucked in his hand. What do you think that was? It’s sad at times how we de-emphasize the word of God!

Please don’t lose heart if this isn’t a strength in your life right now. 2014 is ripe with opportunity to turn that right around! And what better way to get started than with a tangible, reasonable plan?

readingplan

I started with this!

I’m not afraid to admit that without a plan in front of me highlighting a portion of Scripture to read on a daily basis, my flesh will kick in and do its dirty business. I simply won’t spend any meaningful time with the Lord. I know myself too well to be willing to stop using a plan. I can be very lazy. I’m definitely selfish, and I certainly don’t have a stellar reading comprehension. Those facts and more wouldn’t combine for a positive result in light of the non-negotiable need for me to be like Mary…sitting at the Savior’s feet and listening. A plan helps me be accountable to myself. It gives me the nudge I need to keep going. With a plan, I don’t start doing things arbitrarily, and I learn about God’s wonderful plan and narrative for mankind so much more. If that’s shocking to you so be it, but I believe each believer must decide on his/her own what is necessary to do the right thing. I’ve decided that I need a pre-developed plan in order to be effective in studying the Scriptures.

This year I chose the tried-and-true cover-to-cover strategy. Genesis to Revelation, every verse in the order published. That’s a heavy dose of Old Testament doctrine I’ll tell you! And believe you me, I struggled as I always do in going through the Prophets. The Pentateuch, Psalms, and Proverbs? I love the stuff. The Prophets? I probably couldn’t answer a single Jeopardy clue on those books. Regardless, I’ve overall enjoyed my 2013 Bible reading. I will finish Ephesians tomorrow. I’m actually about three weeks ahead of the schedule, and should finish near the second week of December if I remain on pace. (Somehow I was able to push further when I was in Numbers?…)

prophetclue

Eh… lifeline please?…

Next year I already know what I’m using, and I’m pretty stoked for it. When I read The Disciplines of a Godly Man (a.k.a. “How I Fail” by <insert your name here>) I discovered a plan in the back that’s actually topical in nature. Why does that excite me? Well somehow I seem to learn better and apply truth better when I’m studying a specific subject matter. I don’t know how the author of the plan managed to break down the entire Bible in that way, but I’m really looking forward to it. It starts with the concept of Beginnings. I’ll be curious to see how the Spirit changes me to be more like Jesus Christ through the Word with this approach if the Lord gives mankind (and me) a full 2014.

Great resource!

Does every day using a Bible-reading plan result in tremendous fruitfulness? Oh how I wish. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t be the fruit of the Spirit, now would it? We’re sinful creatures. We daily rebel against our Creator God, and that includes times we think are our good days. If you read the Bible 24/7, you still wouldn’t have come close to being fully like Jesus Christ by the time He took you home. I don’t point that out to discourage, but instead stress how all the more critical it is to be regularly reading the precious word of God. Failing to do so only makes the moment-by-moment war with the spiritual forces of darkness, and the flesh, that much more precarious.

Is it easy to commit to a plan to read through the Bible in 365 days? No, but I’m very thankful that God has placed the necessary influences in my life, and showered me with plenty of grace, to be able to do so. And I wish to admonish you to do the same. What obstacle or obstacles are you allowing to come between you and your Savior in this way? Video games? TV? Movies? Sports? Something else? What are you choosing to do, or not do, that’s preventing you from consistent face-to-face time with the Lord that laid down His very life in exchange for yours? Don’t shy away from whatever self-examination you might need to do in order to get there. I certainly had to. Most of us probably have to at some point or another.

As far as what plan to choose… the options are many. Ask someone for a recommendation (pastor, friend, family member). Just try something! Ask someone to hold you accountable. And in 2014, God I know (because He promises) is prepared to bring many spiritual blessings into your life. He wants a relationship with you because He’s a relational God. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Read through the Bible in 2014!