Wednesday, 11 January 2017

No Compromise

Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were innocent bystanders caught up in circumstances beyond their control— a lifelong captivity in a foreign land. But they didn’t let misfortune, temptation, manipulation, intimidation, or even death shake their faith. Instead of compromising, they faced each new challenge with courage and trust in God. They didn’t use circumstances or the sins of others as excuses for failure. Rather, they kept making choices consistent with their faith, trusting that God would take each situation and use it for His purposes. Their fierce loyalty to God in a pagan culture is what we admire most about them.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to a consistently moral and ethical standard.

Daniel and his friends were certainly men of integrity and good character and their boldness in the face of adversity is a trait each of us should aspire to.

God had made a covenant with the people of Israel, promising that He would care for them and bless them if they obeyed His laws, but if they disobeyed, He would chasten them and scatter them among the Gentiles.

Leviticus 26:33 “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.”

Instead of Israel being a light to the Gentiles and revealing the glories of God, they became more like the Gentiles and worshiped their false gods. This is probably the reason for God giving the Israelites into the hands of the Chaldeans. Babylon was the home of idolatry so the Jews were sent there so they might learn to loathe the idols they had loved.

Daniel was barely more than a boy when the Babylonian axe fell. Daniel was transformed from near royalty to iron rule captivity. His ministry spanned the entire period of the prophesied seventy-year captivity of the Jews in Babylon, so he couldn’t have been much more than a teenager when Nebuchadnezzar came on the scene.

The approach of the Babylonians had been watched closely in Jerusalem and Judah. Nobody could have been ignorant of what their arrival meant. Jeremiah had been proclaiming it for years – The “Time of the Gentiles” was about to begin.

So Daniel, and his mates are captured and taken into exile in a foreign country. The king’s policy was to train the best people of the conquered nations to serve in his government. He could benefit from the knowledge of their own people and could use their skills to strengthen his own administration.

As a part of this transition,, the old Jewish wisdom had to go; from now on they would learn the wisdom of the world, the wisdom of Babylon. Not only do they have to learn the wisdom of Babylon but also the language of their captors (the world has a different language). The king hoped that this brainwashing would make them better servants.

For the next three years, the four youths were supposed to eat the king’s diet, which, of course, was contrary to the dietary laws of the Jews. No doubt the food was also offered to the idols of the land, and for the Hebrew youths to eat it would be blasphemy.

It’s amazing how the world doesn’t like to recognise God’s name. Each of these four boys had “God” as part of their name. The Babylonians would give them new names, new gods, and new prospects. Each of the four new names exchanged the name of God for the name of a Babylonian idol.

Daniel (which means God is my Judge) was changed to Belteshazzar (Who Bel favours)

Hananiah (God is gracious) was changed to Shadrach (Illuminated by the sun god)

Mishael (Who is as God) was changed to Meshach (Who is like Venus)

Azariah (The Lord is my help) was changed to Abednego (The servant of Nego)

Maybe the Babylonians thought that these new names would help the youths forget their God and gradually become more like the heathens they were living with and being taught by.

The king wanted to force the Jews to conform to the ways of Babylon. We face the same problems today. Satan wants us to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2)

God’s people resist the pressures that can “squeeze” them into conformity with the world. According to Romans 12:1-2 “conformers” are people whose lives are controlled by the pressure from without, but “transformers” are people whose lives are controlled by the power from within.

Daniel and his three friends were transformers.

The Babylonians could change Daniels home, his education and his name, but they could not change his heart. Daniel “purposed in his heart”. meaning, his heart was fixed!

Paul and Barnabas urged the early Christians in Acts 11:23 that with purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord. This is the only way to keep from buckling under pressure, and it is that same purpose that is still relevant today.

He vowed that the standard would not be lowered, that obedience to his God demanded the same life of integrity whether he lived in Babylon or Israel.

Daniel was not rude, obnoxious, or demanding. He requested … that he might not defile himself. Having made up his mind to remain pure, Daniel pursued his objective in a respectful, submissive manner. Verse 9 tells us that God had caused the prince of the Eunuchs to look favourably upon Daniel. It could be that God used Daniel’s attitude to win him that respect.

The Eunuch feared to let Daniel have his way because he would be held responsible for any physical deterioration in the four young men.

The four Jewish students didn’t threaten anyone; they didn’t stage a protest, or try and burn down a building. They simply excelled in their studies, acted like gentlemen, and asked Melzar to test them for ten days. Having heard his superior’s objections, Daniel proposed a reasonable alternative. The test Daniel proposed was long enough to obtain the desired results, but short enough to protect the interests of his superiors.

God’s ways only need a short time to prove their worth. Ten days were all it would take to prove that God’s dietary laws were superior to those of the court. To try to do what God suggests demands only faith in Him. His ways are the best ways.

Melzar, the chief steward, would determine for himself the success or failure of the test. Daniel promised to abide by Melzar’s decision. Each of these acts demonstrated a great faith in God to be in control of the circumstances.

The vegetarian diet that Daniel proposed was probably not confined to one single item but included a variety of lentils, beans, seeds and other similar foods, much more healthier than the rich, spiced concoctions, saturated with fat, that the others were offered.

At the end of the ten day period, how did God show his favour toward Daniel for taking this radical step of faith? (verse 15)

Ten days later and the result of the experiment was there for all to see. The four Jewish boys were healthier in body and better looking than all the other students.

God gave these four young men a suitable and swift reward. He “gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” Here were men that God could trust with learning. They were like sponges; they soaked up knowledge with ease.

They became proficient in all of the sciences, in subjects that depend on human reasoning as the means of understanding. Daniel became proficient in dreams and visions, subjects that depend on divine revelation as the means of understanding.

Time was up and it was make or break for Daniel and his three mates. They stood before the king for inspection. Nebuchadnezzar tried the men with hard questions and it soon became evident that four young men outranked all of the others. The king asked Daniel questions that stumped even the members of his court who were themselves famous in the colleges. Daniel outshone them all. He was “ten times better” than they were.

I've spent a lot of time on the ocean over the years having been a commercial fisherman, and something you really need to be aware of, especially while you're trawling is current. Current can swing a boat around very slowly over the course of a run but when you look where you're meant to be, suddenly you're way off point. One of the best ways to avoid being caught in a current while you're dragging nets is to set a point in the distance on your radar and then constantly keep adjusting your course to counter the force of the ocean.

In the early part of this century, an American ship was wrecked off the Sicily Isles near the coast of England. The sea had been calm and the weather clear, but the vessel was caught in a treacherous current that slowly lured it off its course. Before the captain and the crew realized what had happened, the ship had crashed into the rocks.

In life, too, currents of compromise can catch us off guard and carry us to shipwreck. Spiritual drifting is usually a slow process. We only know it has occurred when we have lost the strong resistance to the evil around us and the passionate desire for truth and doing right that we once had.

Compromise is defined as:

1. a settlement of differences by mutual parties; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc.

Often, life is filled with compromises. We are given a choice as to how we will live our lives and what path we are going to follow through life. When we come to these times of decision, it is imperative that we make godly choices. The choices we make at the crossroads of life will determine our usefulness to God and our effectiveness in His kingdom work.

What we’ve learned about is about four men who came to a time of decision in their lives. They could either compromise and go with the flow, or they could stand their ground and live for the Lord. The circumstances they faced and the decisions they made set the course or the rest of their lives.

Since this incident occurred, the names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have become great heroes of the faith. And, what of Daniel? Who would have ever have heard of Daniel if he had compromised at this early stage of life?

His name would be unknown to modern man, and we would never have received this wonderful book. With that in mind, it is good to be able to say that these young men stood their test and as a result, we can all be blessed and encouraged.

As you and I go through life, there will always be times where we are going to have to make decisions to do the right thing. When these times come, and they most certainly will, we will either decide to go with God despite the cost, or, we will choose to compromise. My prayer is that we can gain the strength that we need to always make our stand for the Lord.

Daniel and his mates, they were willing to put God to the test. It will not always be the easiest thing, nor will it be the most popular thing for you to take your stand with God. It will not always be understood by those around you. However, it is always the right thing! If we will be willing to stand our ground for the Lord, He will certainly honour our stand and bless us.

The whole point of this is that these young men made up their minds that they were going to live for the Lord, and they allowed nothing to change them or to turn them from their purpose! As you follow them through the rest of their lives, you see they stuck to their guns more than once.

In chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to die rather than compromise. 

In chapter 6, Daniel, an 80+ year old man, risked death in the lion's den rather than compromise in his walk with God. What about us? Do we have that same level of resolve and commitment to the Lord and His work? Would you be willing to die before compromising with the enemy? For some of us, probably not! We compromise in many ways. In our speech, in our dress, in our lifestyles, in our music, but they had decided in their hearts that they would die before they would compromise with the world, the flesh or the devil.

We need to strive for that same standard in our own lives. There are a lot of God's men who need to recommit themselves to Him today! There are many who have let down their guard and have compromised in one or more issues. Others are flirting dangerously close to doing the same thing. It is time for God's men to resolve in their hearts that come what may, they will not disgrace the name of Jesus, and they will not compromise in any area of their life!

A Man of Honour cannot win his battles without boundaries. You need to have a specific plan that you are willing to pursue. This means laying out in advance those actions that will preserve your commitment, help you practice your faith and allow you to produce the desired results you are seeking as a Man of Honour.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

What Is Love?

I haven't blogged in a while. To be honest, I enjoyed the break over Christmas spending time with loved ones, which leads me into this first blog of 2015.

This blog is pretty deep right from the start, but this isn't 'The Nice Things That Will Make You Feel Good' blog. It's 'The Power of Truth' blog.

I ponder whether I should have titled this particular article 'What Isn't Love', but I digress.

I pray that if this post relates to you, you'll think long and hard about the relationship you're in and do yourself a favour. God Bless and have a great 2015 living in the freedom of the one who loves us most!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

The harder you work at what is already an imbalanced and unhealthy footing, the less mutual it becomes, especially as what you feel and do becomes distorted.

You’ll end up feeling rejected, being confused, in pursuit and feeling like you have to ‘win’ them over and in turn, not good enough, and you’ll get overwhelmed by your feelings if you don’t opt out at the lack of mutuality. It’ll become difficult to distinguish between who feels what and who is doing what.

It’s like raising your hand and saying “Gimme five…” and then being left hanging, only it’s your heart hanging over a precipice.

Relationships that aren’t mutual are like ‘restricted’ love. You’re never free to just to love and enjoy it. You’re free to let your imagination and even your libido run wild, it’s just that it’s incredibly painful when you realise that you’ve far outpaced reality.

You can be in love on your own but you actually can’t have a mutual relationship; one with love, care, trust, respect and shared values, on your own. Real, mutual love doesn’t have ‘buts’. You don’t need someone saying “I love you but…you know my situation” or “I love you but I can’t give you what you want” or even “I love you and we’ll always be friends but…”

You want someone to say “I love you” – simplicity. After they say it, you continue about your life together, a life I might add that reflects that of two people who love each other mutually. You hug, you kiss, you make plans, those plans come to fruition but before you even make plans, you can even get on and enjoy the simple, normal things that make up the day to day.

There’s no being left hanging. Loving someone that doesn’t step up and ‘meet’ you in a mutual relationship is like throwing your energy into the abyss. It’s demoralising.

It’s impossible to quantify what another person feels and work out if what you feel is what they feel. Any one of us can profess anything we like, hence why love is an action feeling. You'll see how mutual something is by the results. If you look around and you see the results are, that you’re still waiting around for someone to give you back what you’ve already been putting out, or that you’re in pain, miserable with fleeting highs, or you’re actually regarded casually or as a ‘friend’, that’s a poor result. It’s not one that you need to correct – it’s one you need to opt out of.

If they’re not loving you back and reflecting it into a mutually fulfilling loving relationship, it’s time to bail.

Loving someone alone or in an imbalanced, unsatisfying, often somewhat ambiguous setting is beneath you. Mutual relationships take two and you can’t make someone love you. You’ve tried and it doesn’t work, so don’t continue to force it.

Separate out what you think, feel, see, and do. How much of this is evidentially similar to what they claim to think, feel, see, and do? Remember that love, even when it’s healthy doesn’t make you Siamese twins. You can only determine this for you. Love doesn’t create an IOU hence you don’t have to feel like you’re owed if you only get into and stay in this when it’s mutual.

You’re better than this. Pain is not love, it’s pain. Love does not sell you short.

Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit,so a fool returns to their folly.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

5 Reasons Your Wife Thinks You're an Idiot.

Marriages can be tough. Heck, working together with human beings in any capacity can be rough business, but in this case you’re jumping into the foxhole with someone who splits electricity bills with you and sees your junk constantly. Or less constantly, depending on your foxhole schedules.

I’ve been with my partner in crime and best mate for 10 years as of next August, and though I still make mistakes constantly I’ve learned so much about navigating our relationship. Every marriage and human connection is different, so the reasons below vary from person to person, but these are the most common areas that usually need improvement.

So, here, brave reader, are five light hearted but very real reasons your wife thinks you're an idiot.

1. You're not doing enough.

Cleaning up after yourself? Unfinished projects all over the place? Dirty socks left out? I can neither confirm nor deny that I have done any and all of these. Chipping in, even when you haven’t got any energy left to give, MUCH LIKE I FEEL AT THIS VERY MOMENT, can be the key to getting stuff done.

Start with the fun stuff. Or the hard stuff. Or the stuff no one wants to do. Just start. The key here is activity and diligence.

2. You're doing too much.

Alright, tough guy. Maybe you’re doing too much? Ever think about that. I recently read an article by a guy who realized doing ALL THE THINGS wasn’t helpful for his life, let alone his relationship.

Life is such a balancing act, but you can’t balance if you don’t have sturdy legs on the table. You are a leg. Make sense? Didn’t think so. I’m tired.

3. You aren't romantic.

Man, this is a tough one. Typically, people are super schmoopy in the beginning. Right? Well, life gets in the way and kids stomp all over you. It’s tough. But creating that relationship, boy, it's the best. Learning about each other for the first time is a blast. Maybe there are things you don’t know? Make it an adventure and figure it out.

Or just show up in a Zorro cape with roses. She’ll either laugh at you to the point of sympathy or actually be into it. Win/win.

4. You Always____________________

Leave the toilet seat up. Hog the bed. Leave the fridge open. Forget to empty the bin. Have bad breath. THE LIST NEVER ENDS. Like the list of annoying crap you can pull on your spouse, there are a thousand options for her to grab onto. I’m not sure there is anything you can do about it, but at least you can play the game.

5. You aren't reading her mind.

What’s wrong with you? You should be so evolved and understanding that you know everything before it happens. Go watch “Minority Report” then watch “Dead Zone” and follow that up with “Serenity.”

Well, that last one is on the list because it’s awesome. But seriously, you should be able to work 3-5 steps ahead. That’s the only way to stay sane in a relationship.

As Lewis Carroll put it: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

These thoughts could apply to any sex, really. Let’s not discriminate here. People are nuts. And relationships are like kerosene for crazy, if you’re not careful.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

God Has Trademarked Manhood

This is how trademarking works. It’s a claim on something original or unique that establishes ownership. Many might use, build on, or add something to the original, but the trademark establishes the absolute first origin of something. It’s important in business—it’s more important in creation.

Man is God’s creative work.

God holds the trademark on creation. More specifically, God holds the trademark on manhood. All of God’s creation was brought into being with a sense of care and love, but when he created man he didn’t speak him into existence as he did the stars, water, land, and animals. Instead God innovated a new technique in creation: God formed man. This term is rich in depth and meaning—God handmade man by sculpting him from what he had already created.

Genesis 1:26–28 is considered a summary statement of the creation of both men and women. In that summary, though, we find a statement of purpose along with mere description. The key is in the word image. Those five letters are jam-packed with fundamental theological truth that gives us insight not only into God’s original intent in human creation, but also his ongoing purpose for us in the world.

Work is a key part of who we are as men.

Man was meant to function like a mirror—something to reflect the image of God into creation. Humanity, made in the image of God, was created to be an earthly representation of who God is. In man’s God-given dominion and rule over creation, he was to display the ultimate rule of God in his limited dominion.

Working men

As an image-bearer, man was to reflect God’s heavenly reign on earth. In other words, man represents God by virtue of being in his image. In representing God, man was to glorify the God who created him.

This is an incredible responsibility. Both Genesis 1:28 and 2:15 describe this responsibility as the act of subduing and caring for creation. In subduing creation, man is given the ability to use it for his personal benefit on God’s terms. In that light, the command in Genesis 1:28 might be paraphrased like this: “Harness its potential and use its resources for your benefit”

Man was called to subdue, care, and rule in God’s name.

The word care in Genesis 2:15 carries a similar sense. The man is called “to work it and keep” the garden. In essence, this responsibility was a job.

It's no coincidence that man got a job before he had a woman! Work was good in those days—more than good, in fact. Then and now, in a redeemed sense, work is a key part of who we are as men.

Man was called to subdue. And he was called to care. But he was also called to rule. In ruling they would serve as God’s vice-regents (a person who acts in the name of another) on Earth. This rule was not to be done with an iron fist. If humans were really going to reflect the image of God’s rule on their own, they would accept the responsibility of seeing to the welfare of that which is put under them and the privilege of using it for their benefit.

Imaging in relationship

We need to be careful here that we don’t miss one of the chief components of being God’s image-bearer. As an image-bearer, man is to subdue. He is to care and work. And he is to rule. All these components are key, but what is missing up to this point is the relationship.

Having a relationship with God was what made image-bearing more than just some sort of political appointment. God designed humans with a unique capacity for relationship because it was his intent that this centerpiece of his creation, man and woman, would be relationally connected to him for eternity. Without relationship, none of the other aspects of being an image-bearer would matter.

Jesus restores manhood

In the gospel, Jesus is restoring our vision of manhood. He is blowing up our own versions of what it means to be a man with his own quintessential masculinity. His life, death, love, and resurrection push us onward to our restored relationship with God and others.

In him and in him alone, we can find that the gospel is applied to all areas of our lives that we might become the men God intended for us to be—those conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Let us, then, commit our lives to journeying with our Savior, having repented and being restored by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Why Men Hate Coming to Church.

Why do men feel so uncomfortable coming to church these days?

God didn’t send girly-men to preach the Gospel, build churches and reform society back in the days of the early church. And He certainly won’t do that today either.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of our culture. I’ve put all my chips on one strategy: Men don’t feel welcomed in churches anymore because Christianity has been feminized.

As a part of a strategy to change, we need to stop emasculating maleness in men and the solution is simple. Start encouraging men in the church to be men – not women in drag.

I struggled to find statistics in Australia, but the numbers in America are staggering and I have no reason to doubt they would be relative here.

The typical U.S. congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61 percent female and 39 percent male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.

On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.

This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.

Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.

As many as 90 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it by their 20th birthday. Many of them will never return.

More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on any given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.

These are absolutely frightening statistics, but they are not surprising.

The spinoff effects of this reality can be seen in our families (or at least what’s left of them), our schools, our clubs and in the prisons of our society. And ironically, with the death of genuine masculinity, an increasing number of young men are seeking to reclaim their manhood in homosexuality.

On a cultural level, we all know that the idea of a “real man” has almost been beaten out of our social consciousness. Men are objects of scorn and vilification. Watch any TV commercial or sitcom and you’ll witness a barrage of attacks, all designed to assault the dignity of real masculinity and the historic male role model as provider and protector.

I’m not saying anything new here. Many have already made this point, some much better than I, but what concerns me isn’t that broader culture has rejected masculinity, it's that the church has aided and abetted this concept of manhood, and it’s not just the liberal churches that are guilty either.

All too often the pastoral “role model” in evangelical circles mirrors that “Simpson’s” character, the Rev. Love Joy. Our pastors are either quaint, odd, harmless pushovers, or they are slick metrosexual types who can cry at the drop of a hat – literally – but have absolutely no courage to stand up against real evil or teach the truth with authority.

They’ve suppressed godly male assertiveness, opting instead to “be nice.” They have forfeited their calling to “speak the truth” in the interest of political correctness. And they have decided that manipulating people with emotional self-help books and anecdotal sermonizing is better for the bottom line than training and teaching the men in their congregations to be leaders and warriors for Christ. And as a result, the church is suffering from a death of real men.

Is feminism to blame?

No doubt feminism is a force of evil in society. It is evil not because it has tried to establish equality. Rather it is precisely because it hasn’t established equality that it is guilty of perpetrating a fraud. What feminism has succeeded in doing is to convince both sexes that the only masculine identity that is valuable is an effeminate male. That in fact, the only way for equality to exist is for men to be like women, or simply not to exist.

Now, we can blame the feminist movement all we want – but it won’t change a thing because in the end, men have embraced their own feminisation. Men have done this to themselves because they have become soft and lazy.

Men are far more interested in accommodating the women’s movement than in asserting their masculinity. And whether that’s because we want to be “popular with the girls,” because we are too insecure and unsure about leading, or if it comes out of sheer exasperation – “You want to take over the leadership? Go ahead, I just don’t want to argue anymore” – we’ve conceded our role in family, church and society.

But let’s be clear about one thing: We had no right to palm off that responsibility.

The solution is very simple: Men need to be men again. They need to take up their responsibility the way God intended them to behave. And the church needs to re-learn how to help them do that again.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Importance of Following Instructions

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord." (NIV)

Proverbs 16:20

We live in a world of instructions. Practically everything that can be purchased comes with a set of instructions. Even boxes and cans of food quite often include instructions on how to utilize the product in some new recipe. Instructions are a vital part of our daily lives and influence us more than we realize. It is important to follow instructions for at least three reasons.

First, following instructions frees us from frustration. How many times has a dad gotten in a hurry on Christmas Eve, trying to assemble bicycles and other assorted items without reading the instructions only to find that he should have inserted Tab A in Slot B before cutting along dotted line C. It is easy to be overcome by overconfidence when it comes to assembling children's toys, thinking that we can do it by ignoring the instructions and simply looking at the picture on the box. After all, who has time to read all of that fine print and count to make sure that the package includes the right number of nuts, bolts, and thing-a-majigs. Ignoring the instructions inevitably leads to some very frustrating moments.

Ignoring God's instructions for our lives will also lead to some very frustrating moments. How often do we think that we have life all figured out. How often do we think that we can handle life's problems on the strength of our understanding alone? How often do we fail to see the bigger picture and get completely frustrated with life, people, and ourselves? Ignoring God's instructions as found in His Word will eventually lead to frustration.

Proverbs 13:13 states, "He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded" (NIV). We need divine perspective more than we realize.

Second, following instructions delivers us from danger. There is a tag on the cord of my electric hair clippers that reads, "Danger--Electrocution possible if used or dropped in water." There is a warning stamped on plastic bags that contain that states, "Warning: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep away from babies and children. This is not a toy."

Our streets are dotted with instructions at the end of long metal poles: "Stop ... Do Not Enter ... One Way ... Slow—Children At Play." We simply cannot escape instructions, regardless of where we go.

Quite often, instructions are posted to keep us from endangering our lives and the lives of others. When these instructions are neglected tragedy is often the result.

God's Word is filled with instruction that warns us of danger. There are many negative commands in the Word of God, the "Thou shalt not..." passages. 

Rather than seeing God's negative commands in a negative light however, we ought to see them as being doubly positive.

However, behind every negative command stand two positive principles of protection. When God says "No" it is because He wants to protect us from danger and provide something better for us. It would benefit us greatly to willingly follow God's instructions lest we put ourselves and others in danger. We would be wise to heed the advice of Proverbs 4:13, "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" (NIV).

Third, following instructions enhances our enjoyment. When we follow the instructions that come with a purchased product, our enjoyment of that product is enhanced. We enjoy using the product and more than likely will discover that the product will last longer when used properly and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

So it is with our lives. We will enjoy life more when we purpose to live our lives in accordance with our Maker's instructions. In some cases we can expect to live longer when we follow our Maker's instructions because we will avoid paths, habits, and relationships that might endanger and even end our lives prematurely. The writer of Proverbs was right in stating, "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers."

Monday, 3 November 2014

10 Tips for Maintaining Sexual Integrity

Normally, I'd write a blog each week about issues men encounter every day, real life issues. This week however, I am borrowing material straight from this weeks Men of Honour study that was delivered to the group by my long time friend who helps me prepare and deliver our studies.

He provides 10 practical tips on maintaining sexual integrity that all men can adhere to.




Recognize that sexual temptation is unavoidable in our sex-obsessed culture. Erotic images on billboards, films, television and a thousand other stimulants are bombarding you daily. Being a Christian doesn't exempt you from temptation - the godliest of men can fall prey to it. So the first step towards maintaining sexual integrity is to get real. Admit to yourself that sexual temptation is a problem that you have to reckon with. Remember John's warning: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" (I John 1:8).



You should know by now that sexual sin ravages everyone connected with it. What you may not know is that every sexual fantasy you entertain, every flirtatious conversation you keep up, or every "second look" you indulge in is the seed for AIDS, adultery, a broken heart, a shattered life. Get serious - if you're entertaining lust, you're dancing on a cliff. Take concrete action now while you can. "Lust, when it is conceived, brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death." (James 1: 15)



If you really believe an earthquake is coming someday, you prepare for it by developing an emergency plan. If you really believe sexual temptation is both common and can become lethal, you'll make an "emergency plan" for it, too. Decide in advance what to do when you're tempted: how to distract yourself, who to call, how to escape close calls. Even St. Paul admitted: "Like an athlete I train my body to do what it should, not what it wants to do. Otherwise, I fear that I myself might be declared unfit." (I Corinthians 9:27) Can you really afford to do less?



Sexual sin thrives in the dark. If you're caught up in any sexual vice, one thing is certain: The secrecy surrounding your behavior is what strengthens its hold on you. However ashamed you may feel about admitting your problem to another person, the reality is this: You can't overcome this on your own. If you could, wouldn't you have done so by now? Take a hint from James: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you might be healed." (James 5:16) Find a trusted, mature Christian friend to confide in. Make that friend a partner in your recovery, and NEVER assume that you've reached a point where you no longer need accountability.



I believe there's an eleventh commandment somewhere that says "Thou Shalt Not Kid Thy Self." If you're serious about sexual integrity, you'll distance yourself not only from the particular sexual sin you're most prone to (fantasizing, pornography, affairs, prostitution) but you'll ALSO distance yourself from any person or thing that entices you towards that sin. Sometimes, even a legitimate activity (certain movies, music or clubs, for example) may be OK for other people to indulge in, but not for you. Get brutally honest about your lifestyle: anything in it that makes you prone to sexual sin has to go." All things are lawful for me", Paul said, "but not all things are edifying. I will not be brought under the power of anything." (I Corinthians 6:12)



Sexual sins are often symptomatic of deeper emotional needs that a man is trying to satisfy in all the wrong ways. Repenting of the sin itself is necessary first step, but recognizing the conflicts or needs that led you into that behavior may be the next step, requiring some specialized care from a Christian professional. Don't hesitate to seek Godly counsel if you're trapped in cycles of ongoing, out-of-control behavior. The answer you need may be more than just "pray and get over it!".King David (who was no stranger to sexual sin, by the way) found refuge in Samuel's wise mentoring. (I Samuel 19:18) If you're willing to seek professional help for taxes, medical care or career counseling, surely you'll be willing to do the same to maintain your sexual integrity.




The problem of sexual temptation isn't going anywhere. It's been with us since time immemorial, and no doubt it will plague us until Christ comes. So get comfortable with the idea that you'll need to manage your sexual desires throughout life, always remembering that your sexual integrity is but a part of the general life-long sanctification process all Christians go through. "I count myself not to have attained perfection", Paul told the Phillipians. "I am still not all I should be." (Phillipians 3: 12-13) So learn to love the process of pressing on, not perfection.


"I've been looking for love in all the wrong places", an old song laments. The sexual sin you're drawn towards may indeed be a cheap (though intense) substitute for love. You can repent of the sin, but not of the need the sin represents. So get love in your life: friendships, family, spouse, fellow believers. A man who truly loves, and knows he's truly loved, is far less likely to search for what he already has in places he'll never find it. "Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread, or your labor on that which cannot satisfy?", Isaiah asked. (Isaiah 55:2) Learn to be intimate and authentic. It's one of the best ways to protect your heart and your integrity.



It isn't the sinless man who makes it to the end; rather, it's the man who's learned to pick himself up after he stumbles. If you're struggle seems relentless, remember this: when you commit yourself to sexual integrity, you commit yourself to a direction, not to perfection. You may stumble along the way - that's no justification for sin, just a realistic view of life in this fallen world. What determines the success or failure of an imperfect man is his willingness to pick himself up, confess his fault, and continue in the direction he committed himself to. Remember Paul's approach: "Forgetting those things that are behind, I press on towards the mark of the high calling." (Phillippians 3: 14)


Tip 10: GET A LIFE

What's your passion? What's your calling? How clear are your goals? And, by the way, do you have any fun? The man who doesn't have a life - a passion, a sense of meaning, an ability to play as hard as he works - is a man with an emptiness tailor-made for sexual sin. Life is about more than keeping yourself sexually pure, as important as purity is. It's about knowing who and why you are, where your priorities lie, and where you're headed. If you don't know that much about yourself, you have some serious thinking to do. Commit yourself to developing your life as a good steward of your gifts and opportunities, and make that the context in which you seek to maintain your sexual integrity. Sexual integrity for it's own sake is a good thing; sexual integrity for the sake of a higher calling is better. So by all means turn from your sin. But as you do, turn towards a goal-oriented, passionate, meaningful life. That is repentance in its truest, finest sense.