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Building Blocks

A Better Country for Old Men

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desiringgod.org» by David Mathis on November 4, 2013

This is a plea from the younger generation to the older. We desperately need you.

Please don’t phone it in just when the King’s about to call. Don’t retire on the world’s terms and abandon your long-time local church.

As the tsunami of the Baby Boom begins to flood the shores of retirement, please don’t leave us Millennials to fend for ourselves and make the same mistakes all over again. Join John Piper in rethinking retirement, and complete the course, all the way to the finish line, proclaiming Jesus’s might to another generation (Psalm 71:18).

Your Wisdom

For your joy, and for our good, we need you in this family called “the church.” You are our fathers (1 Timothy 5:1). The apostle wrote not only to young men, but to you — not just to the younger generation, but to the “fathers” (1 John 2:12–14). Don’t leave us as orphans.

We need your wisdom. We need your experience. You have made the long journey, watched fads comes and go, rejoiced with those who have rejoiced, wept with those who have wept, endured the dark night of the soul. As the young men see visions, we need you to dream dreams (Acts 2:17) and lean in, not out. Help us be courageous when we should be brave, and gently direct us to a different course when we should back off.

What will we hobbits do without our Gandalfs?

Your Example

We need your example. The young bucks need your discipling and your encouragement to be self-controlled (Titus 2:6), to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22). We need you to model for us how “not to be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil” (2 Timothy 2:24).

We need you to be “sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2), to temper the energy of our youth with your patience, to complement the young man’s ambition with the perspective of the happy, old man who’s already been around the block a few times.

Your Grace

We need your forgiveness. In our fervor to create the future, we often have seen things out of focus. At times, we have been so naïve as to think things would be better if your generation would get out of the way. It might be easier, but it emphatically would not be better. How deadly it is when spiritual ardor ferments into arrogance. We have been foolish. We have sinned against you. We need your mercy.

We need your patience. We need your grace. Young leaders are not always easy to deal with. We ask you to remember what it was like to be younger, even as we try to keep in mind that one day soon we will be older. We ask you to listen, truly listen, and give those of us who manifestly love Jesus the benefit of the doubt. We’re not trying to ruin your church, but prepare the way for greater things still yet to come. We’re not trying to kill your gospel legacy, but keep it alive.

And we need you to do all this, not in your own strength, but in the strength that God supplies, so that in everything he gets the glory through Jesus (1 Peter 4:11). He has promised explicitly not to forsake you (Psalm 71:18), but to carry you, even to old age and gray hairs (Isaiah 43:4). He will empower you, and preserve you to hear his voice, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23).

More Than Ever

For decades, you have walked as “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). And now, as you slow down and grow weaker, and so acutely feel yourself closer than ever to heaven, more than ever “seeking a homeland” (Hebrews 11:14) — as you “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one,” a city prepared for you by God himself (Hebrews 11:15) — please don’t settle for a little Sabbath evening of rest on this side.

We need you — ordinary, average, imperfect you. Not only do we long for the likes of Raymond Lull (martyred among Muslims at age 80), and Polycarp (bishop of Smyrna, burned alive in 155 at age 86), and J. Oswald Sanders (who wrote a book a year beginning at age 70 and died a week after he turned 100). But we also earnestly need the unknown senior sages, laboring without renown in out-of-the-way local churches, participating without occupying the positions of privilege, engaged without making the final calls, on the bus without having to be in the driver’s seat.

“Most men don’t die of old age,” said Ralph Winter, “they die of retirement.”

Please don’t retire from the local church. We need you more than ever.

desiringgod.org» by David Mathis on November 4, 2013 •

Camo and the art/skill/sin of hiding

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Calling All Men Of Heritage…(CAMOHeritage-camo). Camouflage is extremely helpful when blending in to your surroundings on a hunt. There’s something about blending in that’s naturally comforting and appealing to most men, but as men of God we are called out of darkness and into light…from blending in to leading out…from hiding to leading.

camo

With this is mind, we are challenging all the men of Heritage to set aside a few hours on October 6th, 6-8pm to attend a special evening that is sure to help you fight the good fight and equip you to help others do battle as well.

It appears that one of the Enemies most effective weapons of mass destruction for our generation is pornography.  Survey after survey indicates that 50% of all Christian men struggle with pornography.  That number goes up to 67% when just considering those between the ages of 18-35.  Marriages are being destroyed, families and are being ripped apart, men are suffering in silence with guilt, shame and depression.  As the church, as men of God, we must engage in this battle—for our sake and for the sake of our sons and grandsons and neighbors.  Whether you personally struggle or not, the reality is people all around you are. We ALL MUST be equipped and educated to fight the good fight.  Our fellowship with the Lord, our relationships with one another, and our effectiveness for the Kingdom are all being destroyed as we sit back while so many are entangled in this secret sin.

Our special guest October 6th will be Jerry D Wright. Jerry Wright is a minister and also serves as a speaker and venue moderator at one of America’s largest Christian men’s gatherings at Falls Creek’s “MenRewired.” He is the founder, editor, and publisher of “Men Living Up,” a resource for the most challenging issues for today’s men including sexual addiction topics.  He has written an excellent book entitle, “My Father’s Stash,” which chronicles his journey into and out of sexual addiction.  It truly is a tremendous resource that I believe every man should read.

We are Calling All Men Of Heritage to attend October 6th 6-8pm in the HBC Chapel.  We are NOT asking you to come and talk or share your struggles or break up into small groups.  The entire agenda for the evening revolves around us hearing Jerry’s story and being equipped and educated. Topics to be covered are: the effects of pornography on our brain and heart, how this kind of addiction works, what to do if you’re struggling, how to help those that are struggling, and how to avoid this kind of struggle all together.

Let’s stop blending in and start leading out—as individuals and as a church. May we all take a stand and fight to walk in purity and honor the Lord in all we do.

NOTE:  Guests are welcomed. The content will be best suited for those 16 and older.
For resources or more information about Jerry Wright please visit www.menlivingup.org. Resources include seminars, workshops, website, blog, and free podcasts on ITunes®.   Jerry recently launched Men Living Up Radio, with Internet broadcasted programming designed specifically for men.

Sexual Sanity and Healing Wounded Hearts

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There’s little doubt that pornography is a modern-day plague. Though pornography has always existed in one form or another, the Internet has created a medium through which it can be disseminated both widely and discreetly. Almost an entire generation of boys has succumbed at one time or another, with a new generation quickly falling into all of the same traps. And it has not just been boys; many men have found the temptation irresistible (and, of course, not a few women). While there are some who try to downplay pornography’s impact on life and marriage, evidence is mounting that it is a terribly destructive force.

Two new books from New Growth Press address the issue head-on. One targets men who are struggling with pornography or any other manner of sexual sin and the other brings help and healing to women who have found that their husbands have an addiction.

David White’s Sexual Sanity for Men seeks to help men “understand that sexual sin starts in their minds and hearts and shows them how knowing Christ breaks their chains, builds spiritual brotherhood, and helps them take practical steps to re-create their minds in a God-focused direction.” This is a study or a course as much as a book. It is broken into fourteen chapters, each of which has five parts. The idea is that you will read one chapter per week, and one part per weekday, and hopefully meet with other men along the way. There is a downloadable leader’s guide that allows it to be structured as a group study.

The heart of the book is helping men re-create their minds through the power of the Holy Spirit so that they are able to make choices that are sexually sane. Paul Tripp says it well in his endorsement:

I know of no resource for men who are struggling with sexual sin that is more soundly biblical, drenched with the gospel, and practical at the street level. I am thankful that this resource now exists and will recommend it again and again. Here is a welcome for men to come out of hiding, to embrace that there is nothing that could be revealed about them that hasn’t already been covered by the blood of Jesus, and to believe that God has given them every grace they need to fight the battle with sexual sin.

Meanwhile Vicki Tiede has written When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography. (Long-time readers of the blog may remember that I interviewed Tiede early in 2011 and at that time she mentioned that she was working on the book.) This book is meant for the women—the thousands or millions of women—who have been left shattered and betrayed when they have found out that their husband has an addiction to pornography. In many ways Tiede has the more difficult task; the men have sinned and have now to put sin to death; the wives have been sinned against and have to deal with the betrayal and heartbreak and bitterness.

Tiede writes from personal experience here and gently guides women away from anger and despair and toward healing. The book promises that “Through daily readings and questions on six important topics: hope, surrender, trust, identity, brokenness, and forgiveness, you will grow in healing and hope. Allowing God to meet your greatest needs is a long and learned process, but he promises to help you every step of the way.” Much like White’s book, this one is structured as a series of daily readings of five per week for six weeks. It is equally drenched in the gospel and equally practical. I had the opportunity to read it before it was published and to write this endorsement:

A porn plague is raging in homes across the world today, and for every addicted husband there is a brokenhearted wife. While there is an abundance of powerful, biblical resources to help men overcome addiction, their wives have largely been overlooked. I am grateful that Vicki Tiede has filled that void. In a book that is sensitive, biblical, and conversational, she comes alongside hurting women as a friend and guides them to the hope and peace only the gospel can give.

Though much has been written on the subject, each of these books has a niche all its own. White gives men the time they may need to overcome an addiction and to retrain their minds, something that usually cannot be accomplished overnight or through a quick reading a single book. Tiede eschews easy answers and calls women to the kind of action that will take time and conviction.

Both Sexual Sanity for Men and When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography are well-written, well-formed, and much-needed books. Any of us can benefit from reading these books and every pastor or counselor will want to keep some on hand.

When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography is available at Amazon ($9.99 Kindle and $15.99 Paperback)
Sexual Sanity for Men is available at Amazon ($9.99 Kindle) and Westminster Books ($14.39 Paperback)

Article written by Tim Challies and can be found on his blog here.

Violence against women: the rage of the flesh

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Violence against women is a sin of an extreme nature. It is the opposite of Christ, who loved His bride and sacrificed Himself for her, to dignify her with eternal glory (Ephesians 5:25-27). Therefore, anyone who loves the Christian gospel must oppose violence against women as a sin against our Lord Himself.

But violence against women is wrong for another reason, a very personal reason that goes to the core of what a man is. This reason will mean nothing to some people, but in fact it is the deepest root of this sin and points to the only true remedy.

Violence against women is the rage of the flesh, utterly contrary to the Holy Spirit. According to the New Testament, the flesh – that is, our natural moral psychology, marked by selfish demandingness and excuses and superiority and swagger – proves itself in obvious ways: “. . . enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger” (Galatians 5:19-21). The rage of the flesh is, in fact, hostility toward God Himself (Romans 8:7).

Sir, if you abuse your wife or daughter or girlfriend, physically or verbally, you are more than a bully. You are the enemy of God. You are usurping his place as Judge. You tell yourself she needs a little roughing up. You tell yourself you are doing her a favor. But you are not a good man. You are an evil man and unqualified to judge. You are under God’s judgment.

Here is the choice you face. Go on justifying yourself, go on blaming her, in which case you will go to hell forever. Or own up to your evil and fall at the feet of Christ, the only Savior of violent bullies. He will amaze you with His forgiveness. He will turn you around, so that you become a Spirit-filled advocate for women, starting with the one you have mistreated.

Your problem is not her. Your problem is the deepest you that you are. And Christ is your only escape from you. Run to Him. He will not abuse you.

 

This article was written by Dr. Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor of Immanuel Churchin Nashville, Tennessee and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. It can be found on the Gospel Coalition blog here.

A Gospeled Man

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But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

— 1 Timothy 6:11-12

As I view what it means to be a man through the lens of this instruction from Paul to Timothy, I am reminded again of the holy activity of true masculinity (and true personhood, generally). Flee, pursue, fight, take hold. Paul is nothing if not verby. I am struck, though, by how often I fail at these things. I am busy about things that so often don’t matter and passive about things that do. I am lazy. I can’t be bothered. And when I look for where I ought to get the oomph of holy pursuit from, I see Paul couching the masculine imperatives in the masculine indicative: “O man of God.” If this is what I am, this is what I can do. Furthermore, I see the importance of “taking hold of the eternal life to which I was called” for the other actions.

The godly man is a gospeled man. He has seen who he is in Christ, he is moved by what God has done for him in Christ. If I don’t get this part, all the rest will just be a self-salvation project, an exercise in self-righteousness.

I need a better vision. I need a better vision than simply that of myself as a “manly man” going about some religious busywork. I need a vision of the conquering, saving, loving Savior who has done all these things for me and covers my failures at doing them myself.

If biblical manhood is about denying excuses and taking responsibility — and I think it is — I begin to think of all the excuses the God-Man could have made when it came to loving and saving me. He could have shaken his head and cataloged my list of deep unworthinesses:

 

Father, he’s so sinful. He’s always struggling with lust and he looks at pornography.
Father, he’s so lazy. He doesn’t deserve all this effort.
Father, he’s so unspiritual. He won’t even pick up the Word to read a few lines.
Father, he doesn’t treat his wife the way she ought to be treated.
Father, he’s not the kind of guy who could set the world on fire, is he?
Father, he’s so passive. He’s so timid. He’s such a coward
Father, he’s so prideful. He enjoys praise too much and he’s selfish.
Father, he’s short-tempered. He leaps to defend himself too much.
Father, he’s such a failure, a nobody, a loser. He’s a stuttering wimp, just like that girl in the 5th grade said he was. He is what he always feared his family thought he was. He doesn’t deserve a second glance like those bosses at his first job proved. He is what his critics say he is, worthy of scorn and derision and unworthy of forgiveness. He is what the Accuser says he is, only as good as what he has failed to do and deserving of eternal condemnation.

But with his atoning sacrifice Jesus doesn’t say any of those things about me. He says “Father, this man is your son and you’ve set your affections on him. So I am pleased to die for him.”

So I write this today not as a perfect man, but as a gospeled man, because I have taken hold of Christ having taken hold of me (Phil. 3:12). I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and now by God’s grace I am empowered to love well and serve well and husband well and daddy well and pastor well. And so can you, men of God, if you will but lay hold of it.

Take hold of this precious truth. The Son of God has set aside all the charges against you, all your sins and failings, and has taken them to the cross, killing them by dying with them,

leaving them dead as he himself raises to new life — your new life, which is eternal and into which he is calling you.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
— Romans 8:1

This article was written by  Jared C. Wilson and can be found here
.

Masculinity in a Can, Fight Club at Church, and the Crisis of Manhood

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You do not have to look far to find evidence of the fact that males are in trouble in these confused and confusing times. On the university campuses, women undergraduate students outnumber young men by a clear margin — 60% to 40%. A frightening percentage of young males are or have been behind bars, and the vast majority of young men are delaying their assumption of adult roles and responsibilities until well into their twenties or early thirties.

A crisis of fatherlessness marks the lives of millions of boys and young men, with boys growing up without fathers in the home now comprising a majority within some ethnic groups and urban populations. At almost every grade level, boys are performing below girls, and are often left behind as girls go on to more advanced levels of learning. Then, adding insult to injury, reports from scientists indicate that both sperm counts and testosterone levels are falling among some boys and men — blamed on anything from hormone supplements in the food chain to chemical contamination of ground water.

In many churches, young men and older boys are simply missing. The absence of young men ages 18 to 30 is just a fact of life in many congregations. Though this is especially acute in the mainline Protestant denominations, it is increasingly true of many evangelical churches as well.

One dimension of this problem is the difficulty of helping boys develop into manhood — a responsible, healthy, and meaningful manhood. Put simply, many of the most significant man-making institutions of our society are either gone or in big trouble. Military service is now both voluntary and no longer male-only. Organizations like the Boy Scouts attract more opposition and fewer boys. Even as the Boy Scouts of America marks the organization’s centennial this year, that proud American institution that shaped the lives of so many boys is marginalized and under attack.

Add the absence of fathers to all this and this society faces a challenge unprecedented in human history. A society cannot survive without a means of assisting boys to grow into responsible manhood. The same is true, of course, of the church — only in the church the stakes are even higher.

An enlightening (and oddly odorous) illustration of this social problem comes from The New York Times. Reporter Jan Hoffman tells of young boys now using “hypermasculine” products in order to demonstrate their masculinity and advertise their male identity — largely through the smells they put off.

Hoffman tells of Noah and Keenan Assaraf, age 13 and 14 respectively, who live near San Diego, where daily “they walk out the door in a cloud of spray-on macho,” according to their mom. The smell, she says, “drives me nuts.” Even as marketers insist the products are intended for young males ages 18 to 26, the products have now “reached into the turbulent, vulnerable world of their little brothers, ages 10 to 14.”

As Jan Hoffman explains:

Boys themselves, at a younger age, have also become increasingly self-conscious about their appearance and identity. They are trying to tame their twitching, maturing bodies, select from a growing smorgasbord of identities — goth, slacker, jock, emo — and position themselves with their texting, titillating, brand-savvy female peers, who are hitting puberty ever earlier.

And armies of researchers note that tween boys have modest disposable incomes, just fine for products that typically sell for less than $7.

“More insecurity equals more product need, equals more opportunity for marketers,” said Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University.

Insecurity seems to be a major motivating factor. Jake Guttenberg, a New York seventh grader, told the paper he uses one of these “deodorants” because, “I feel confident when I wear it.”

Lyn Mikel Brown of Colby College was blunt in her assessment: “These are just one of many products that cultivate anxiety in boys at younger and younger ages about what it means to man up . . . to be the kind of boy they’re told girls will want and other boys will respect. They’re playing with the failure to be that kind of guy, to be heterosexual even.”

Interestingly, Hoffman reports that these products are often bought for boys by their mothers, “simply relieved that their sons are thinking about body odor.” Just about any mom will nod in agreement at this point — but where are the dads?

These boys are acting out what society is telling them — urging them to be hypermasculine, hypersexualized, hyperconsumers. You don’t have to consult with Karl Marx to be leery of the marketing of these products to preteen boys. You do not have to know these boys to be saddened that while they understandably and naturally desire to grow up into manhood, think that “masculinity in a can” is the way to get there. Their desire to identify as masculine is natural and healthy — even essential — but the lack of real support in getting there leads them into confusion.

The New York Times also offers evidence of the crisis of manhood in a second article, in which reporter R. M. Schneiderman takes readers into a world of “mixed martial arts” in some evangelical churches and ministries.

“The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility,” he explains.

From his report:

In the back room of a theater on Beale Street [in Memphis], John Renken, 37, a pastor, recently led a group of young men in prayer.

“Father, we thank you for tonight,” he said. “We pray that we will be a representation of you.”

An hour later, a member of his flock who had bowed his head was now unleashing a torrent of blows on an opponent, and Mr. Renken was offering guidance that was not exactly prayerful.

“Hard punches!” he shouted from the sidelines of a martial arts event called Cage Assault. “Finish the fight! To the head! To the head!

In order to reach young men, some churches are turning to mixed martial arts, defined as “a sport with a reputation for violence and blood that combines kickboxing, wrestling, and other fighting styles.”

The main issue here is not the legitimacy of martial arts, but the fact that these churches are making a self-conscious effort to reach young men and boys with some kind of proof that Christianity is not a feminized and testosterone-free faith that appeals only to women.

Of course, Christianity honors the man who fights “the good fight of faith,” and the most important fight to which a Christian man is called is the fight to grow up into godly manhood, to be true to wife and provide for his children, to make a real contribution in the home, in the church, and in the society, and to show the glory of God in faithfully living out all that God calls a man to be and to do. This means a fight for truth, for the Gospel, and for the virtues of the Christian life. The New Testament is filled with masculine — and even martial — images of Christian faithfulness. We must be unashamed of these, and help a rising generation of men and boys to understand what it means to be a man in Christ. The Christian man does not embrace brutality for the sake of proving his manhood.

This much is clear — we are living in strange times, getting stranger by the minute. Churches and parents are right to be concerned about the new challenges of helping boys to grow into manhood. The crisis is real, and this one demands urgent attention.

Boys will never find real masculinity in a can, but boys and young men should find respect for and examples of genuine manhood at church. What about your church?

This article was written by Dr. Al Mohler and originally posted on his blog. You can find it here.

Sex, God, and the Gospel

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A life-with-porn versus a life-without-porn is a poor choice. If you set it up in these terms then you won’t produce lasting change. We need to set it up (as it truly is) as a choice between life-with-porn versus life-with-God. We need to show how God always offers more than porn.

This begins with exposing the lie of porn. We sin because we have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Rom. 1:23-25). Porn is no different. Porn makes false promises.

For some porn offers respect: a fantasy world in which I’m potent or admired by others. For others porn offers intimacy: substitute relationships without the risks. For others it offers escape: when life is daunting or boring we turn to porn for quick satisfaction. For some porn may offer revenge: a way of getting back at our spouse who hasn’t delivered the sex we want or at God who hasn’t delivered the life we want.

But it’s all lies. Porn is a performance—carefully cut and edited to create the illusion of power or pleasure. We need to look beyond the frame of the camera. Porn sex is never real sex. It distorts our expectations of relationships, marriage, and sex.

And porn never delivers. It’s a cheap fantasy that only leaves us wanting more. People move from softcore to hardcore looking for what porn cannot deliver until they’re enslaved.

We need to expose these lies. Then we need to show how God promises more.

If porn offers respect, then the good news is that you don’t need to be controlled by the opinion of others. Compare those whose approval you want with God. Who matters most? Whose affirmation really counts?

If porn offers risk-free intimacy, then the good news is that God is in control. Relationships are risky, but God promises to care for those who trust him. He may not provide a spouse, but he will provide himself—a chance to know the Creator.

If porn offers escape from the pressures of life, then the good news is that God is in control. The Bible describes God as a “rock” and “refuge” to his people (Ps. 18:1-3). “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

If porn offers you escape from the boredom of life, then the good news is that God is the source of true and lasting joy. Of course, porn is immediate, quick, easy. But its pleasures are short-lived and empty. We’re always left wanting more.

If porn offers revenge, then the good news is that God is gracious. We think we’re not getting what we deserve—from our spouse or from God. In fact, we’re getting far more than the judgment we deserve. God welcomes us into his family. Thinking of yourself as a son or daughter of God will set you free from resentment and bitterness.

At its root porn is about worship. I want to be worshiped. I can click between women, all of whom offer themselves to me. Or I can think of myself as the stud sending women into an ecstasy of desire. Or I can think of myself as the romantic heroine, relentlessly pursued by my admirer. I enter a world in which people worship me.

Freedom begins when I stop trying to be at the center and let God be at the center. It begins when I stop serving myself and start loving other people.

Talk About Good News

At the moment biblical sexual ethics seem like bad news in our culture. I believe the day is coming when people will again want to hear what the Bible has to say about sex. Sex is everywhere and everything in our culture. As a result it’s losing value. The Bible’s restrictions on sex are like the banks that constrain the Niagara River so that it gushes forth in the Niagara Falls. Remove those restrictions and you’re left with something more like the Mississippi Delta—wide, shallow, and muddy. A biblical approach to sex is good news for married people.

A biblical approach to sex is also good news for single people. Sex has become a substitute god in our culture. It is the source to which we look for meaning, fulfillment, value, identity. People feel lost without it. They feel worthless unless they have the admiration of a lover. It’s their savior. But it’s a poor savior. When we find sex, we feel loved, potent, justified in the moment. But it doesn’t last. Sex is not God, and we’re left empty, wanting more. And then when we don’t measure up, failed sex leaves us crushed.

Consider the approach of Jesus with the woman at the well in John 4. He knows she had five husbands and the man she is now with is not her husband. He could have told her to stop her sexual sin. Instead, he offers her living water. She has been looking for meaning, satisfaction, identity in sexual intimacy and not finding it. The math tells the story: five husbands plus one. She has made sex her savior, and it has not delivered. Jesus gives her good news by offering meaning, satisfaction, identity in himself. He offers true satisfaction (“living water”) and lasting satisfaction (“welling up to eternal life”). Legalism says, “You should not move from man to man, and you should not use porn.” The gospel says, “You need not move from man to man, and you need not use porn, because Jesus offers something bigger and better—he offers living water.”

“This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). So says Paul after talking about marriage. We’re talking about marriage and sex, but it turns out we’re talking about Christ and his bride. God gave us sexuality to help understand his covenant love. The passions we feel around sex point to God’s passionate, jealous love for his people. Every conversation about sex is really a conversation about Christ who “loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy” (Eph. 5:25-26).

Let’s talk about sex. Our message is good news.

 

This excerpt is adapted from the new e-book, Porn-Free Church: Raising Up Gospel Communities to Destroy Secret Sins (Covenant Eyes, 2012). Download it for free here.

Tim Chester is a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK, and co-director ofThe Porterbrook Network, which seeks to train people for church planting. He’s the author of more than a dozen books including The Message of PrayerGood News to the PoorYou Can Change, and Total Church, co-written with Steve Timmis. Tim blogs here.

Twelve lessons on biblical manhood I learned from my father

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The young paratrooper stood at the open door of the C-47 transport plane. Wave after wave of angry wind currents battered his army fatigues with the ferocity of a category five hurricane. He paused momentarily, double-checked his static line and then leaped into the darkness below. Instantly, the darkness wasn’t so dark any more. As he plummeted toward the earth, shells from anti-aircraft canons whizzed near him, burning up like a thousand falling stars slithering across the nighttime sky, shells that German soldiers propelled into the atmosphere with deadly intent. Explosions illumined the approaching earth below. Drifting intentionally toward the hostilities defied common sense and he was deeply fearful, but the young soldier was on a mission far greater than even he understood in that moment of moments. That young soldier was my father. It was 2 a.m., June 6, 1944, and he was in harm’s way, big-time. The hedge-infested landscape of northern France, largely flooded with water by Germany’s paranoid Fuhrer, waited as dad and his colleagues in the 101st Airborne descended to join the cataclysmic battle known to posterity simply as “D-Day.”

My father, who died in 1991 when a leaky blood vessel burst in his chest, would tell you that God’s mercy alone carried him through D-Day alive. Sovereign grace saw him through the Allies’ Operation Market Garden (which didn’t turn out to be the Allies’ proudest moment). It preserved him through the Battle of the Bulge, where American troops won despite being grossly outnumbered, completely surrounded (it is the Airborne’s job to be surrounded, my father once told me) and deep-frozen in one of the coldest European winters on record. Divine mercy, dad always said, kept him alive to V-J Day and spirited him back to Georgia to marry my mom. And it was mercy all, immense and free, that converted my dad to Christ shortly after they exchanged nuptials. Charles M. Robinson the soldier became an excellent husband and father, faithfully raising three boys to be faithful husbands, fathers and churchmen.

Over the years as I have read God’s Word and reflected back upon his quiet testimony to God’s grace in our home, I have been increasingly thankful for the Godward values he instilled in us. Unfortunately, godly, committed fathers are the exception in today’s culture rather than the rule, but I was blessed by God’s mercy to be raised by one. Though he was far from a perfect man, my father exemplified biblical manhood in many respects and taught me many lessons by example. Following is 12 things that my father’s example taught me about biblical manhood:

  • The right thing is not always the easy thing. Ask any of my father’s friends and they will tell you that humble courage, above all other attributes, typified my father. If he feared anything other than the Lord, our family never knew it. Dad was particularly adamant about doing the right thing, even, or perhaps especially, when it was a difficult thing. But courage should always display itself in a manner befitting the humility of Christ, I think he would be quick to say. My father did not believe he was courageous. When I asked him if he was scared the night he jumped into Normandy, his replay was an incredulous “Of course.” So what made you do it? “Because there was something at stake that was far larger and far more important than my safety,” he said. That’s humility wed to courage. That’s like Christ and I want to be like that.
  • The right thing is not always the popular thing. Like following Christ, making the right decisions will not always win the applause of others, even some who profess undying devotion to you.
  • Greatness is found in humility, not in touting one’s own greatness. I will never forget my father, in the context of teaching me how to play the great game of baseball (the national pastime seems to be imbedded somewhere in my family’s DNA), said, “When you make a great play, hit a home run (I was a singles hitter, so this particular play wasn’t much of an issue) or do something to help your team in an obvious way, act like you’ve been there before.” My father wanted God, not me, to be glorified, even in sports.  Dad was appalled at the strutting of professional athletes and was always put off by those who strutted in life, particularly in the church.
  • Men are called to do hard things. Men are called to make difficult decisions in the home, workplace and church. Men are called to do hard things like taking a wife and raising children. My father saw a tendency among young men toward delayed adolescence in my generation and was deeply concerned.  That God makes men a bit rough around the edges is suggestive, he believed.
  • Husbands are called to protect their wives. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, a man must be willing to lay down his life for his wife.
  • Fathers are called to protect their children. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, a man must be willing to lay down his life for his children.
  • Be good at what you do. That 1 Corinthians 10:31 is such an oft-quoted Scripture verse in my home is probably attributable to my father. Whether you were going to be a plumber, professor, athlete, student, doctor, pastor or custodian, you must never stop striving to grow in your ability to do it with great skill and integrity with a sense of stewardship.  My father was a master builder and approached every project as if it were his last. Every sphere of life belongs to God and all must be done to His glory.
  • Talk is cheap, especially in the Christian life. “There are men who are talkers and there are men who are doers,” he told me. Dad was a “doer,” which is a North Georgia way of saying, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
  • Father/husband, if there is a financial crisis in the home, you are the solution, not your wife. My father took seriously the husband/father’s role as the chief provider for the family. He would have found the modern-day “stay at home dad” ungodly, effeminate and repugnant. If your lifestyle requires her to take on a career and pushes the children to the babysitter where they are being raised by someone else, adjust your lifestyle to fit the man’s wages. If extenuating circumstances make this impossible, the man should take on additional work so his wife can be faithful to her divine calling as a full-time mother. Dad always said, “You are the solution.”
  • There is no substitute for “being there.” My dad never had to learn such words as “quality time” and “quantity time.” I do not recall a single baseball game (and I played in hundreds growing up) or important church or school event without my dad (and mom) in the audience. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night as a family, no questions asked. That we were being raised as churchmen was an assumption. At home we spent hours talking about everything from God’s Word to sports, the news, good books and the merits/demerits of country/rock/pop/gospel music. In short, his was a huge presence on the landscape of my life and my time with him continues to bear fruit, even as I arrive upon the borders of middle age.
  • Treasuring Christ, not material things, will give you ultimate satisfaction. The Lord blessed my father with material means, but I have no doubt it was never an idol. Whatever wealth he had, it never had him. One of my fondest memories growing up in our household was my parents, under my father’s leadership, providing food, Christmas toys, rent/mortgage money and thousands of dollars in other provisions for the poor of our community, which were numerous. “God has blessed us to be a blessing to others,” he once told me. “We must lay up treasure in heaven, not here.” That’s the biblical prosperity gospel.
  • Authentic manhood is proven by serving others, not by the deployment of bare knuckles. In the mountains of North Georgia where I grew up, a rite of passage into manhood seemed to be participating in and winning at least one fist fight. This was a huge problem for a runty boy like me, who didn’t tip the scales at 100 pounds until the ninth grade. In high school, I used to joke with my friends, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.” My father, who was as physically tough a man as I have ever met, warned me against confusing real manhood with such boorishness. Real manhood is found in sacrificing your needs, wants and desires in service of others as Christ did on Calvary. The real man is the Christ-picturing servant, not the Rocky Balboa wanna-be.

I am following in giant footsteps and I pray that the Lord will give me grace to set an example that points my children to Christ and His Gospel in a compelling and fruitful way.

 

This post was written by Jeff Robinson and originally posted here.

Why are you so wedded to the world?

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George_Whitefield_preaching

Did it ever prove faithful or satisfactory to any of its votaries? Has not Solomon reckoned up the sum total of worldly happiness? And what does it amount to? ‘Vanity, vanity, saith the preacher, all is vanity,’ nay he adds, ‘and vexation of spirit.’ And has not a greater than Solomon informed us, that a man’s life, the happiness of a man’s life, doth not consist in the things which he possesseth? Besides, ‘know ye not that the friendship of this world is enmity with God; so that whosoever will be a friend to the world (to the corrupt customs and vices of it) is an enemy of God?’

What better reasons can you give for being wedded to your lusts? Might not the poor slaves in the galleys as reasonably be wedded to their chains? For do not your lusts fetter down your souls from God? Do they not lord it and have they not dominion over you? Do not they say, Come and ye come; Go and ye go; Do this and ye do it? And is not he or she that liveth in pleasure, dead, whilst he liveth?

And above all, how can ye bear the thoughts of being wedded to the devil, as every natural man is. For thus speaks the scripture, ‘He now ruleth in the children of disobedience.’ And how can ye bear to be ruled by one, who is such a professed open enemy to the most high and holy God? Who will make a drudge of you, whilst you live and be your companion in endless and extreme torment, after you are dead? For thus will our Lord say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.’

George Whitefield, “Christ the Believer’s Husband,” The Sermons of George Whitefield (Kindle Edition)

 

Originally posted by Aaron Armstrong here on  October 21, 2012

57 Billion Dollars

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This is the figure to chew on… Pornography has become a $57 billion industry worldwide. It produces more revenue in the United States than the combined revenues of all pro-football, baseball and basketball franchises or the combined revenue of ABC, CBS, & NBC.

It robs the workplace of the time and talents of employees. 20% of men admit accessing porn at work, 13% of women.

One in five children ages 10-17 has received a sexual solicitation over the internet.

Three million of the visitors to adult websites in Sept. 2000 were age 17 and younger.

 

It is a huge problem that is taking men and women of all ages captive, including those who call themselves followers of Christ. Yet nobody wants to talk about it until its too late when a marriage ruined, a career ended, a life damaged and a mind corrupted.

Is there help, is there a way out of the bondage?

As I recommend this WEBSIGHT I realize that most of the trouble is on the Internet (because of its secrecy and accessibility) but there is help there if you GO TO THIS SIGHT AND NO OTHERS.

www.menlivingup.org

But don’t stop there! Get with another man, a godly friend you can talk with and open up exposing light to the darkness.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. For the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:16

 

Want to talk? Email Jim

Jimmy Jackson

Family Pastor at Heritage Baptist Church, OKC