In part two of our discussion on living by faith and not feelings, Nate and Austin discuss how the Word of God needs to be the ultimate authority in our lives. If we put our trust in the character of God and His Word, we will be able to live by faith and not feelings. If you haven’t already read part one of this discussion you can do so by clicking the link below. (from Podcast Episode # 510 – Live By Faith, Not Feelings | Key Lessons on the Road to Freedom)
Nate: Let’s continue our discussion on living by faith and not feelings. I’ve thought quite a bit about living by faith because I’m the same way as you Austin. There have been some powerful feelings that have tried to hinder me from really following the Lord. At times I would make some gains, like, “Okay, I’m living by faith. I’m not going to live by my feelings.” But then I would just inadvertently slip back into living by my feelings. After some time I would realize, “Wait a second, I’ve got to live by faith.” So, there were just times of gains and times of regression. It took a lot of effort. And I’ve definitely learned some lessons. I’d be interested to hear what you would say about the need to have some absolutes. If I’m going to live by faith, what are some absolute things I need to know about? What would you say some foundational lessons are that you had to learn?
Austin: I would say there are about three things that I had to learn that were foundational. The first one is probably a bit counterintuitive if you’re thinking about faith. A lot of what we hear is that we have to put on faith and be bold in our faith. But I’ve found for myself, that it is foundational to persevere in a lifestyle of repentance. And the reason is that at the cosmic level, God is trying to give us as believers something valuable, but the enemy is trying to allure us away from receiving from the Lord by exploiting our tendency to live by our natural senses.
So, there’s this war inside that causes me to need to continually be purified in my attitudes, motives, loves, and affections. They constantly need to be purified and turned toward the Lord until Jesus is what I love, desire, and treasure, not the things of this world. Because if that’s not the case, I won’t have any faith for what God is trying to give me. Why would I put faith in something that I don’t even want? Why would I persevere past feelings for something that isn’t even valuable to me? So, continuing to walk in a lifestyle repentance is foundational.
The second thing is that, now that my heart is being purified, I really do need to put my trust in the character of God. That is a choice. Faith is not something that’s just going to happen on its own. It’s something that takes an active choice. That choice needs to be very much intentional. The ability to trust in God hinges on my attitude towards the Word of God, because the Word of God is how I know who God is. That is the bedrock of truth for me. If the Word of God doesn’t have absolute authority in my life, then I will find myself compromising here and there and thinking that God doesn’t really stand faithful in certain areas of my life. Or I might look at a certain aspect of my life and think that God isn’t there for me in that way. All of those kind of cynical thoughts and feelings slowly eat away at our faith. So we really have to have a confidence in the Word of God that reveals the character of God to us in a deep way.
I would say that the third thing is choosing to praise the Lord, even in difficult circumstances. I talk about the choice to praise the Lord with every single person I counsel. Choosing to praise the Lord and choosing to give gratitude is so foundational to persevering in a life of faith. It keeps your eyes off yourself and your circumstances and keeps the Lord front and center.
Nate: That’s good. When I was preparing this interview, there was a passage in 1 Peter that came to mind and I’m going to paraphrase it. It’s in 1 Peter 1. Peter is basically saying that you have a living hope and you have an inheritance in heaven that’s incorruptible. And maybe you’ve been grieved by various trials, but that’s only because you need them so that your faith will come out like pure gold, and it will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus, whom not having seen, you love. What hit me is that when we’re talking about faith, our faith is supposed to be all wrapped up and intertwined with knowing Jesus and reveling in Jesus and worshiping Jesus. I guess I wanted to close this segment by giving you a chance to just testify about Jesus. Something that has become real to you or something that has become precious to you about Jesus as you’ve been learning to walk by faith.
Austin: It is a walk that is tested and there are various trials, and there is a testing by fire that’s going on and I’ve experienced that in my life. But Jesus in the midst of that has been so faithful and I’m so thankful to Him that He is the one who’s in charge of my sanctification in that process. I’m so thankful that He keeps the vision when I lose it. When I’m overwhelmed in the midst of that wilderness and that trial and that fire, He knows what He’s doing. He’s been so faithful to me in that. He always brings me back to the fact that He is purifying me. He’s purifying me to be His bride, to live with Him and to love Him. And even when I don’t feel it, I need to come back to worshiping Him, giving Him my affections, and giving Him my love by telling Him with my words and my actions, even when I don’t feel it, that I love Him. That’s what I really love about Jesus, that He keeps bringing me back to seeing His faithfulness.
Nate: That’s so awesome. And anybody who walks this thing out is going to have their own testimony about Jesus. It’s not just learning some tips about how to be a good Christian; it’s about knowing Him. And He will reveal Himself in ways that are very precious and in ways that it becomes ours.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
As human beings we are naturally driven by our feelings. On the one hand, they are a gift God has given us and can even protect us. For instance, fear keeps us from doing things that could cause us harm. Pain can give us warning signs that we might have an injury or illness. But on the other hand, we are challenged by God’s Word not to let our feelings dictate the way we think and act, especially when it comes to moral decisions. Instead, God calls us to live by faith. (from Podcast Episode # 510 – Live By Faith, Not Feelings | Key Lessons on the Road to Freedom)
Nate: Austin, I wanted to start off by asking you how relevant you think the topic of living by faith and not by feelings is. If you could venture a guess and think about all the guys you’ve counseled and the guys that you’ve interacted with on our Residential Program campus, what percentage would you say need to learn this lesson?
Austin: I would say it’s safe to say 99%, if not 100%. I can’t think of anyone that I’ve counseled that I haven’t addressed this issue with.
Nate: Okay. For someone who’s listening and has never even really considered if they are living by feelings or if they are living by faith, can we first describe what it means to live by feelings?
Austin: To live by feelings is simply to live by my senses. You can easily quantify that by using the following example and examining these patterns in your own life. If you have a two-year-old kid who’s just sitting there playing and they see a toy that they want, at that moment all hell breaks loose until they have that toy. That’s what you can see. There’s a sense and there’s a desire that that kid has as a two-year-old that says, “I want that and I’m willing to do whatever I need to get that. We could get that same perspective looking at a teenager who has a friend group and he wants to be like his friends. His friends maybe have the latest video game and he’s like, “This is something that I want.”
So, this mindset of living by what one wants, if left unchecked, will continue to go step by step into each stage of our lives. If that goes unchecked in a teenager’s life, then as a young adult what’s going to keep him from doing all kinds of other things? This kind of consumer mentality of whatever I want is mine can really monopolize our lives. I took some time to think about it and if you really want to boil this issue down it comes down to submitting to one’s feelings regardless of what the Word of God tells them. The Word of God has something to say about what is right or wrong in any given situation and we have the temptation of whether we want to heed what the Word says, or just do what we want and what feels good in the moment. So living by feelings would simply just be going by what feels best at the moment rather than taking into consideration what the Word of God says.
Nate: That’s a really good perspective because we are Americans through and through, and one of the things that’s deeply entrenched in our culture is the idea of “I’m just going to be me.” We believe that if we feel it or if we think it, we’re going to act on it. I think a lot of people, especially our younger generation, are just being taught to live this way. If you ask somebody, “Why didn’t you go to work today?” They may respond with, “Well, I just wasn’t feeling it.” And as you said that kind of life will end up being very destructive. Then on the other side, it can be really hard to break out of that kind of life, especially if you’ve been living like that for a long time.
Austin: Certainly. For someone who’s now really repented, who’s now wanting to walk in the right direction, how does this now carry into their new life with the Lord? There are a couple of things that I’ve really found we have to face with the Lord that I’ve learned from personal experience. For instance, we may begin to not completely give over to sexual sin, but now in this new life with the Lord there are things that are coming against us that we must face and deal with, as far as feelings go. Some of these things include despair, depression, and condemnation. There are strong inward feelings that if we submit to, can run our lives in a very wrong direction very quickly.
Nate: Yeah. Or maybe anger or laziness. There are so many things in our inward lives that are trying to get us to live a certain way. And that’s kind of what you were saying. If I feel condemnation or if I feel despair or depression, it’s not just that I feel it, but it’s actually causing me to live in a certain way. Maybe I neglect my responsibilities because I don’t feel good. Maybe I shut people out because I’m depressed. Maybe somebody has a need right in front of me, but I just say no, I’m not going to take care of them because I don’t feel like it. It always ends up affecting our lives. So, like you were saying, there has to be a whole reorientation of one’s life from doing what their feelings tell them to do, to doing what the Word of God tells them to do. That’s what you were saying. What it means to live by faith is to let the Word of God tell us how to live our lives.
Austin: Yes. For me personally, that’s really something that goes deep because I still remember in the program the first time that I started walking by faith. I remember it was early in the morning one day getting up out of bed and it was one of those mornings that you just feel dead and have no desire to seek the Lord or to spend time with Him. But I knew that that was what I needed to do. I needed to seek the Lord. I needed to pray and read the Word. So, I went to the place where I would normally spend time with the Lord in the program, even though internally I just felt like I couldn’t do it. I was sitting there with my Bible open, but I just felt like I didn’t have it in me to seek the Lord.
And in that moment the Holy Spirit reminded me of what my counselor had told me. The night before this happened my counselor told me that you can choose by an act of your will to praise the Lord. And that came back to me at that moment as a revelation of, “In this moment, even if I feel completely dead, I can choose to praise the Lord.” And as we know, the Word of God is full of commands to praise the Lord and in every circumstance to give thanks. And so that’s just what I began to do. I began to praise the Lord and thank Him for the Word of God and how sure and how faithful it is.
And I just remember that after about 15 minutes of doing that, something broke. It went from being completely dead to me to being full of life. The Holy Spirit really began to speak to me, and the Word of God began to become real to me. So, a morning that was completely dead got turned around all the way to where it was the best quiet time I had ever had thus far. I just remember that for myself and the revelation of how powerful it is to obey even when I don’t feel like it.
Nate: Yeah. And I’m just thinking about what would have happened if you would have gotten there to your quiet time, opened up the Bible and were like, “You know what, I’m just not feeling it.” And shut the Bible like, “I’ll just see if I feel better tomorrow.” Then maybe you come back the next day and you’re not feeling it again. And this can go on forever. Eventually you will create a pattern where you never read the Word or pray because you never feel like it. And that’s a death sentence, to never read the Word because you don’t feel like it. We need the Word of God. And what’s so awesome is that when we obey, like you were saying, the Lord rewards us.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
I read this on Facebook and thought it was powerful and needed to be shared. I didn’t write this, credits given below.
“It’s just a song”
“It’s just a music video”
“It’s just a performance”
“It doesn’t mean anything”
“It’s not that deep”
These are just some of the excuses I’ve heard from lukewarm Christians regarding the celebrities they endorse when they do things like this on national television and call it “art”.
Rather than pray for these individuals we cheer them on? Rather than teach our kids to be careful with what they listen to we sing along with them in the car? One of the top songs being played on repeat in our radio stations is called “Unholy”. Beyonce has a song where she says she uses the Bible to soak up her period blood. Yet we call her Queen? No thanks.
The world is going to be the world. The lost will act like the lost. Those who operate in darkness will radiate darkness. I’m not surprised by this. I am surprised that people who claim to love the Lord support this mess.
It’s not just a song. It’s not just a music video. It’s not just a performance. It does mean something. It is that deep. And if you don’t raise your children in the Word they will be raised in the World. Don’t worry about being politically correct, be biblically correct!
Ephesians 6:12–13 says “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Don’t make excuses to support darkness because the beat sounds cool and the light effects were on point. Look beyond the talent and see if the symbolism is something you actually want to partner with. Not only that, be proactive against the darkness. As long as there is breath in these people’s lungs they can be redeemed. Pray for their salvation, healing, and deliverance. Satanic imagery is not something to be played with, even if the celebrity isn’t taking it seriously.
This is not a game. Stay prayed up. Be careful what you watch. Be careful what you listen to. Be careful what you tolerate in your home. 🙏
[Disclaimer: this post is directed at the Christian community. If you do not align yourself with the Christian faith you are free to disagree without being disrespectful to those who believe differently than you do. As humans we are not each other’s enemy.]
Written By: Joshua Reyes (Joshua Kings)
Taken from his Facebook page with permission.
“Launch out into the deep!”
What do I DO?
What does “launching out into the deep” actually look like?
HOW do I go deeper with the Lord?
These are the questions that I’ve asked over and over since Sunday night.
Finally, after speaking with my own personal pastor-on-demand (Nate), he helped me to realize the following:
He said, “Launching out into the depths of God is not about striving to ARRIVE. But striving to ABIDE.”
I’ve always struggled with a “works” mentality. But, we can’t just DO things to earn the presence of God We can’t just strive to arrive at the next best thing. Step one, read three chapters a day, get up at 5:30, pray this long, do this, do that. No. Obviously those things help, but that is not how our relationship with Him is supposed to be. Instead, we should strive to ABIDE in His presence, THEN He will take us to new levels of His glory and presence. Abide means to remain in place. We have to remain WITH Him. All day, not just during our devotion, but when time is up. Remain in Him when we are sad, remain in Him when we are frustrated, and even when we are feeling frustrated with Him and life.
Let’s take Luke 9:28 for example.
Jesus TOOK Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure,[a] which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33
Jesus TOOK Peter to the Mountain. Peter didn’t take Jesus.
The Glory of Jesus was being revealed, even when Peter was sleepy. Peter didn’t cause any of Jesus’ glory to appear. But Jesus still invited Peter into His glory. How did Peter get invited to such an amazing display? He was with Jesus earlier. He was with Jesus BEFORE Jesus went onto the mountain. Peter was always abiding with Jesus.
Now, I’m not saying we can just sleep and the Lord will invite us into His glory. I’m saying, we can’t WORK to release more of the glory. Jesus took Peter into a new level of Glory because Peter was WITH Him. I think if WE abide in Him, he will take us to new levels of glory, or new levels of the deep too!
Nathan said we had to give Jesus our boat as a vessel and launch out into the deep. The thing about that is Peter wasn’t alone in His boat when he launched out. Jesus was with Him. We can’t go any deeper in the Lord WITHOUT the Lord being present with us! We don’t launch our boat out to find Jesus somewhere in the deep, He is WITH us on the journey to GET into the deep.
I only share this because it helped me, and if you have had those same questions this week, maybe it can help you too.
Written By: Katie Ammon
Katie Ammon, is the wife of Pastor Nate Ammon, of Cape First Church, Cape Girardeau, MO.
Reposted with permission from Katie Ammon’s Facebook.
What is proper for the Christian marriage bed? I can’t tell you how many times this question has come up through the years as I counsel couples that are dealing with the aftermath of sexual sin.
Sin Has Marred What God Has Intended for Pleasure
This question arises because sin has marred what God intended for pleasure. Our society has reduced sex to a selfish, lust-filled desire. It has become twisted and deformed from the purity that God originally created it in. But I want every couple to know that God can restore purity, even when a spouse’s sexual sin has brought added confusion, guilt or awkwardness into the marriage bed. My own testimony is that He can indeed make sex pure again. Sexual intimacy is a beautiful experience for the couple who sees it as a God-given gift and as a means to bless one another.
When God created man and woman He looked at all He had done and it was pleasing in His eyes. The Bible says, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) The word “everything” includes the way He made and designed our bodies, does it not? I say that because I want you to clearly understand that God intended for us to enjoy sexual relations in the covenant of marriage. Sexual relations were designed by God for procreation, but also to be a time of giving and expressing our love to one another through the giving of our body to bring pleasure and delight to each other.
This Isn’t a Behavioral Issue, It’s a Heart Issue
The question that inevitably comes up is, “What acts are considered acceptable before God to bring that pleasure to my spouse?” Of course, the Word of God is clear about certain acts being sin, such as bringing pornography or another person into your marriage bed. But beyond these blatant violations of the biblical standard, what is permissible? I’d rather not try to convince anyone that particular acts are right or wrong. What I intend to do is to provide the biblical basis for establishing purity in your marriage bed. This isn’t a behavioral issue, it’s a heart issue. The truth is, if your heart is right, you will be able to discern for yourself, with the Spirit’s help, which acts are right and which acts are wrong for you as a couple.
The Scriptures admonish us to, “look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.”(Philippians 2:4). Paul also instructs the husband to “render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:3) Lust and self gratification are self-centered, whereas true agape love is others-centered. Giving, not getting, is what should be in the heart of each spouse as they come together. Love-making should be a time of giving and blessing the other. Our times of intimacy should be expressions of love, not lust.
The apostle Paul wrote, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” (Romans 14:12-14). The context here was the eating of certain foods but the principle applies to the marriage bed. Approached from this standpoint, doing things that would violate your mate’s conscience or cause a stumbling block to either spouse is automatically precluded. Let me just say that anything out of the ordinary can prove to be a stumbling block to either spouse, especially a person coming out of sexual sin.
Nurture Openness and Communication
I encourage couples to have open communication about their love-making. Both husbands and wives need to be able to ask questions about what is pleasing to the other, and they also need to be sensitive to things that might be uncomfortable for their partner. I realize these discussions can be awkward for many couples at first. Most of us haven’t nurtured the kind of openness that is required to address sexual issues in our marriage. My wife and I had to go through all of this ourselves as the Lord led us through the process of restoring our marriage after my sexual sin. It meant honestly evaluating what we did in our marriage bed through prayer and using the Scriptures as our guide. As a counselor, I often recommend that couples go through the book Intended for Pleasure by Dr. Ed Wheat. This book can help Christian couples identify and work through some of their sexual intimacy issues.
Putting the needs of our spouse before our own truly is the way of blessing. When God is in the midst of our love-making, and we are focusing on pleasing Him and our spouse, there is a oneness involved that is beautiful, fulfilling and lasting—the very opposite of lust which is fleeting, unfulfilling and ugly. God desires married couples to enjoy sexual relations as a divine blessing. Couples need to bring godly convictions into their sexual intimacy but they don’t need to allow the past or the devil to rob them of the blessing and sanctity of the marriage bed.
Jeff and Rose Colón held various leadership positions during their 22 years with Pure Life Ministries. Jeff holds an MDiv and BA in Biblical Counseling, and Rose a Masters of Ministry from Master’s International School of Divinity, in Evansville, IN. Jeff and Rose recently branched out on their own and founded the Lighthouse Biblical Counseling Center and the Lighthouse on the Rock Fellowship in Dry Ridge, Kentucky.
It was the late 1960’s. The skirmish in Vietnam was escalating into all-out war. The Beatles were being displaced by hard rockers like the Rolling Stones and the Doors. Flower children were advocating “free love” in San Francisco. And a young man walked to the balcony of his hotel room and, convinced that he could fly, plunged ten floors to his death on the sidewalk below. He had come under the deadly spell of L.S.D.
L.S.D. lied to this young man. L.S.D. stole years of life from him. And finally, L.S.D. murdered him. Several months before, he had been seduced by the euphoria it offered him, not realizing that once he partook of this deadly potion, his days were numbered.
L.S.D. is an apt representative of sin. Like the devil who employs it, it deceives, steals and destroys. Satan uses man’s natural propensity toward sin to lead him down a path of destruction. The victim is enticed down this trail by promised fulfillment. But even while the seducer dangles the intoxicating carrot in front of the person’s lust-filled eyes, it is picking the person’s pocket and leading him right to a cliff.
Sin Is the Greatest Liar Mankind Has Ever Known
Well did the writer of Hebrews speak of “the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13 NASB) Sin promises much and delivers just enough to keep its victim returning for more. It employs the same successful strategy time and again. It presents the act of sin in such a way as to infer that it will bring about tremendous satisfaction. As a master deceiver, sin suppresses thoughts of possible consequences while glamorizing the pleasure it offers. Memories of past consequences fade in the glitter of the proposed act. Typically, a lying devil is moving the process along, keeping the person’s focus fixed upon the object of desire. J.C. Ryle captures its utterly deceptive nature:
“You may see this deceitfulness in the wonderful proneness of men to regard sin as less sinful and dangerous than it is in the sight of God and in their readiness to extenuate it, make excuses for it and minimize its guilt. ‘It is but a little one! God is merciful!’
Men try to cheat themselves into the belief that sin is not quite so sinful as God says it is, and that they are not so bad as they really are… We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in its true colors, saying, ‘I am your deadly enemy and I want to ruin you forever in hell.’ Oh, no! Sin comes to us, like Judas, with a kiss, and like Joab, with an outstretched hand and flattering words.” (1)
Sin Is the Greatest Thief Who Ever Ravaged Man
Consider some of life’s most valuable elements that the sinner must forfeit. Sin cheats a man of his honor. Every time he gives in to some temptation, he is depleting his character. He lacks the conviction and strength of character to resist his passions. Little by little his honor ebbs away until, in the end, he is a shifty, weak-willed jellyfish who nobody respects.
Sin also destroys relationships. A person given over to a sinful idol usually loses interest in loved ones. Spouses are often confused about why their mates seem so aloof, not realizing they are addicted to some secret sin. Sin has a way of making a person’s life extremely tiny. The greater the addiction, the less room there is in the person’s heart for anything or anyone else. The beloved sin demands and receives his complete devotion.
Sometimes sin will even rob a man of his freedom. How many times have I heard a sad story about a guy caught looking at child pornography and sent to prison? After doing his time, the unfortunate soul is eventually paroled back into the community where he is branded as a sex offender. He often must wear this label for the rest of his life.
Worst of all, sin strips a man of his relationship with God. Every time he indulges some temptation, he sets himself up as a defiant rebel to the King of Heaven. With every transgression he aligns himself with the evil one. Before long, he has completely set up house in the enemy’s camp. All the while he convinces himself that he is a Christian when actually he is as just as deceived as the man who jumped off the balcony. Rightly did Jesus exclaim that, “The thief comes only to steal…” (John 10:10 NASB)
Sin Is the Greatest Killer that has Ever Stalked Man
Most people who indulge sin do not receive such swift retribution as the young man who leapt to his death. For most, the death process is long and painful. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: “…when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:15 NASB)
The Apostle Paul said it this way: “the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption…” (Galatians 6:8 NASB) The NIV says the person “…will reap destruction…” while the Amplified Bible says he will “…reap decay and ruin and destruction…” (AMPC) All three translations are correct in their interpretation. The Greek term (phthora) employed by the venerable apostle is sometimes used to describe the corrupting influence of sin, while at other times it describes the process of death.
The truth is that the same sin that defiles the human soul with its vileness also breaks down the life within that person. It is typically a long term process. Little by little everything good and decent is eaten away. The horrible moral decay that the hobbit Smeagol experienced after finding the dark lord’s ring in The Fellowship of the Ring is an apt picture of what occurs within a sinner.
Physical life may remain, but spiritual life ebbs away. In the end, it has given way to spiritual death. The hounds of hell drag the person away into everlasting torment. Those who think they can continue in sin and enjoy some imaginary divine protection are only deluding themselves. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 NASB)
Yes, in the dark corridors and caverns of hell, Sin is heralded as the Great One. It does a tremendous job for its dark master of deceiving, robbing and destroying people.
(1) J.C. Ryle, Holiness, Evangelical Press, England, 1879, p. 7.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
We received an email from a young man, twenty one years old who is struggling with his sex drive – no surprise for a twenty one year old – and I guess someone has suggested to him that psychotropic drugs may be a solution to his problem. How would you respond to that?
Well I would respond from scripture, like I would with any kind of an issue that comes up in life like this. In 2 Peter 1, Peter made a couple interesting statements that I think we should take a look at. He said this:
“seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
OK now that’s a mouthful and I understand that. But I do want to say a couple of things about this. First of all, I need to say that I believe this statement is true. With all my heart I believe it’s true, not only because the Bible says it, but also because it’s my testimony. It’s something that I have experienced and I’ve seen lived out in the lives of many people. God has what every believer needs. That’s not just cheap preacher talk or something, it’s the reality of anyone who has a life with God. Peter promises us here that God’s power will provide everything we need to make it in life. We have to decide do we really believe that. I mean that’s really what it boils down to. When we hear these kind of promises made in Scripture, we have to decide “Do I really believe what the Bible is saying.”
Personally, the idea of a Christian needing to take drugs to live in victory is absolutely preposterous to me. It shows me – and it’s not surprising for a twenty one year old – but it shows me that this young man does not yet know what it means to have the power of God in his inner life. If he will a establish a strong devotional life, not only will he find that there is power to live victoriously in Christ, but it will give him a wonderful opportunity to ask God for a greater infilling of the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that I see in his email is that he is so focused on the sex drive. Of course most guys that are twenty one years old – I mean probably in their teenage years and up – very often, that is exactly what they’re focused on. So there’s more here that Peter is saying about that focus isn’t there?
Well he’s overwhelmed, you know? And like you say, a lot of young people do become overwhelmed when their hormones are raging inside. But you know, I want to say this, that when God becomes large in a person’s heart and in his daily life and in his mind – large in the sense that he’s spending time with him; he’s connected to the vine – then problems become much smaller and much more manageable. And you know, when you’re just kind of living in the flesh, of course your problems are going to be overwhelming.
Now in his email he said that he wants to reduce the sex drive. So are we saying that if he develops that relationship with the Lord – if his focus is on his life in the Lord – are those going to go away?
No, his sex drive is what it is. I mean it’s a physical thing that he has to deal with. But what does come into play is the power to be able to deal with it in the right way. You know, that’s what he’s missing now. All he’s focused on is the sex drive, but he’s not seeing the power of God at work in his inner-man.
Of course one of the things that fights against young men who want to go on the right path with this issue is that the culture is saying that you are a captive to these desires, that you can’t possibly not give-in to these desires. In fact, the culture teaches you’re abnormal if you don’t give-in to these desires.
Right. Also one of the problems that is raised is the fact that really they’re more plugged-in with the world and the pagan culture we live in than they are to the things of God. So of course when you’re more plugged-in to that strong heavy message coming across television and the Internet and so on, that’s going to shape your thinking and your belief system; and it’s going to strengthen the unbelief that’s already in you.
And for a young man or even for a young woman, this really is – if you look at it right – a wonderful opportunity to prove the faithfulness of God in your own life.
Yes it is a wonderful opportunity to glorify God in your body. You know, what a message it sends to young people around you today who are just totally given over to the things of this world, the flesh, sex, and all of it; and to be able to stand strong and say “Listen I’m not into that. My life means something more than that.”
This letter is written to you from my perspective as a child within my home. These are my memories and I share them hoping to open your eyes to the incredible damage that has been done.
The picture is of a family who was about to catch their father in a terrible online affair with you. These kids had no idea the events that would unfold over the next few weeks. The brave lady sitting in the middle had no idea how hard life was about to become and the two decade fallout that you would have to endure.
My father ran off with you, and abandoned his family. He tried hiding it and the problem got so much worse. He took you to very dark places and got caught. You revealed his selfishness. His actions robbed him of the four most valuable things he has ever had: Ryan, Adam, Savannah, and Diane. They were supposed to be his treasure but along the way they became worthless to him in comparison to his own wants and desires. Pornography was a physical manifestation of his infidelity. You are not the sole reason to his harm and destructive behavior but you compounded and multiplied the attitudes already within him.
Every single night, we knew that dad stayed up late. We could hear him walking the halls, or going through the house. He was pretty quiet for the most part, but each night we knew he would be in the corner of the office on his computer. We all knew not to bother him, that was his space. Every now and then I would wander in there wondering what was going on. If you ever surprised him, and walked in the room, you would hear urgent clicking on his mouse, as flashes on the computer would close. Once I must have been pretty quiet because the glare I got from him was completely unnerving. Much of time after that the door would be shut and the only thing you would see is the colors of flashing lights coming from underneath the door. I learned that whatever dad does in there is something only for him, and it is best to leave him alone. Little trips downstairs for a drink of water would make my heart beat fast as I hoped he wouldn’t get mad at me for interrupting him by coming too close. As we were to find out, he was in a sexual relationship with pornography, and although he was trying to be sneaky, we all knew something was going on.
Pornography, I hate you. You had a huge part in turning my father’s heart away from his family. You had his heart when we did not. I am so jealous of the relationship you have with him that I never had. He would change his schedule for you, and some days he would spend more time with you than with us. I am so ticked off from all the late nights he spent with you instead of me, the mornings he would sleep in to recover from your wild nights were mornings he was NOT eating with his kids. You curbed his appetite for real relationships by giving him superficial fake ones to feast on. I curse you for having been the one that my father ran to instead of us.
Early every morning my mom would have a full breakfast ready, and some new book to read us. Even when I was a teenager she kept up this practice. I had to act like this wasn’t cool, but the stories always taught me something, and made me feel like I knew God better than before. She loved to talk to us about Jesus, and the lives he wants us to live. On more days than I could count, my siblings and I planned how we could get dad to do these devotions with us. We had to wait as he would almost never get out of bed till around noon. When he would get out of bed, we would be waiting to ask him if tomorrow he would read these awesome stories with us. We got a soft “no,” for a little while. Later we got more heated responses that sometimes followed with terrible comments about our mom. He was so intimidated at her love for Jesus that all he could do was lie, shout, make comments, and try to ruin her reputation in front of her children. At the end of the day, my father did not want anything to do with us and our journey through these spiritual truths each morning because he is, “Far too tired to wake up that early.” Pornography, you had a hand in this, you were there keeping him company in these early hours of the day. I hate the grip that you put on your slaves.
As my dad’s heart grew colder, his patience grew thinner. I believe that his online pleasures brought him more joy than I ever could. He made it clear how much he was annoyed by us, and we all saw how happy he was to retreat to his time alone. I grew to hate that my dad had his own company. He would rarely go to work, which mean that when he was grumpy, he would spend the whole day playing video games, and being otherwise occupied by his computer. Eventually we would go to bed and the office door would shut. While all my other friends had dads who worked, mine would leave the house rarely and we had to deal with the abusive way that he treated us, with no reprieve of him leaving us alone. It also meant he could stay up till the early hours of each day which robbed us of time with him. Sometimes he was going to bed as we were waking up in the morning. We thought it was video games that took our dad’s mind and heart away from us but it turned out to be a long standing affair with the countless porn stars that visited him through the screens in our home.
When I was in elementary school pornography was called out on the carpet, as the secret affair was caught red handed. This led to a sequence of events that is quite dramatic and does not have a place in this particular story. It wasn’t just porn, it was the years of deception, deceit, lies, and the crazy ways that my dad was trying to cover up the extent of what he was involved in. Not only that but reports started coming in from young guys saying that he was showing them the porn he had, and was trying to get them to watch it with him. Pornography became the gateway drug to his own selfish behavior. This began the downward spiral that led to my parents’ divorce. My mother was instructed by her pastor at the time that she was not allowed to divorce him. That the abuse, pornography, deceit, and threats of violence were not grounds for Biblical divorce. She was told that no matter the danger she was in, she was forced by God to stay. What a heartbreaking thing for a pastor to communicate to a hurting wife with little kids. Pornography at that moment was addressed, but never fixed. The spiritual leaders that were involved never again checked up on Diane Baker and her three little kids. They were left to suffer at the hand of an addict who was harming his family. We were forgotten about and abandoned by the people we were counting on. My father learned a big lesson through this dark time for our family. He learned that if he was going to keep his love affair, he had to do better about hiding it.
My father grew more and more distant from us as we got older. The abusive way he treated us got worse, and terrible things started happening. I always wondered why he was always so mad at us. I wondered why no one else was treated the way we were. It was like something was going on behind the scenes and it was up to us to keep dads big secret. Who we are in public is not who we are at home. We don’t talk about what we are going through, we don’t question dad. He is allowed to do, and say whatever he wants because he is in charge of the family. A few misinterpreted Bible verses later and he would convince us that he is allowed to do what he wants because he is “the head of the home.” “Children obey your parents” became, -I will hurt you and there is nothing you can say or do because I am in charge-. Pornography is not to blame for all bad behavior, but I believe with my whole heart that had it not been in my dad’s life, he would have had more room in his heart to love us, and treat us the way we deserved. I believe pornography siphoned off his ability to passionately pursue others because he was too consumed in loving his addiction.
Selfishness is the most common form of pride. We all have this in abundance, we all are selfish in some way or another. Unfortunately pornography is one of the most selfish things you could do. To sacrifice your marriage vows at the feet of a porn star, is never worth the cost. I was told over, and over again by my father that, “all guys look every now and then.” This is a cop-out, and a terrible excuse. To say, “I saw porn but its ok, because other guys do it too.” Is completely asinine. We all need to man up and call it what it is, “I cheated on my wife with my heart and mind because I wanted to.” Stop making excuses, stop giving yourself a reason that it is ok. Your kids might just find out about this hidden world of immorality, and all the things you have been hiding. I can tell you from my experience, the cost of hiding this from the people that love you is dangerous. The things that were open, and discussed, and talked about was ALWAYS worked through. The things that were hidden by my dad were permitted by him to stay in our home and grow to illegal proportions.
Pornography seemed to be one of the things that my dad ran to in order to whisk him away to a world that he liked better than the family he had. We were not the priority, his online mistresses were. His cold eyes were hungry, always looking for the next visual link he had to the world he enjoyed in his mind. The affairs were worse than real, they were portable, and accessible everywhere. The porn stars he loved got more time with him than his kids did on some days. The industry of porn had a huge part to play as I lost my relationship with my dad. To be very clear, it was more than porn, but the immorality pushed him into some VERY dark places that he had yet to recover from. His pornography addiction is directly linked to the abuse in our home, and the wicked things he did to the ones he was instructed by God to protect.
Pornography is a manifestation of the selfishness within mankind. It does not make people selfish, it reveals the selfishness that is already there. Porn is the essence of lies, as it states that it is more satisfying than the warmth of a spouse. It shows the pride that creeps from the heart as it prioritizes self-pleasure rather than the morality that is found in purity. Pornography whispers in your ear to hide what you have done rather than to be Humble, Open, and Transparent about your failure. The worst part of pornography might be the way it turns reasonable, rational, and decent human beings, like my dad, into people that hurt, abuse, threaten, cause harm, and seek to destroy those around them.
I have had heart wrenching conversations with Madison over my selfish behavior on this subject. I have had to dig out the dirt on myself and reveal what I had chosen over her. I have had to watch my wife’s heart break over my wicked choices. My wife has cried many tears through the conversations where I told her what I have done. It is so much better to own my own terrible choices than to have been caught later and dealt with the fallout. The hours of therapy we have had is one of the largest factors contributing to our healing and restoration. I refuse to hide what I have done for the sake of being afraid of the consequences.
To be very clear. Pornography is not the unpardonable sin, but it is the equivalent of playing with a nuclear bomb. It will go off and set a chain of events where you could lose everything important to you. It is sexual immorality and should be treated as such. I am not condemning anyone, simply sharing my memories and feelings about a sinful pattern that was a key player in the separation I have with my father. I beg you as a son, please do not knock on the door of pornography, it is a terrible mistress and will rob you of everything you have. Pornography will convince you that it is a better lover than your spouse and will take you away from the things in life that you should truly value.
Pornography, you have lodged yourself everywhere. You are ready to crawl into the bed of anyone willing to have you, and you have turned thousands of people from their families as they try to hide their struggle. I rebuke this in the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that all kids, teens, adults, married, and single people in the world would NOT HIDE their struggle, but bring it to the surface to the ones who love them. If we would just stop hiding this, we would make progress to rid it completely from our life. The solution is simple. Take what is in hiding, bring it to the light, and own the consequences BEFORE things get out of hand.
Posted with permission from Ryan Baker
Worth the 30 seconds ….
There was a snake that crawled over a sharp saw and was cut. In anger, the snake wrapped the saw with its thick body and proceeded to squeeze the life out of the saw. (Its natural defense.)
With each angry squeeze, it felt more pain but continued because it wasn’t going to let the saw get away with the pain it caused it. The more he squeezed, the more he bled.
The snake, refusing to let go of the saw, eventually died. Not knowing the whole time, he needed to let go of the initial pain, stop the bleeding, and focus on his future and where he was going. Instead, the snake lost his life and didn’t even see it coming. He thought he was winning.
Let go of any offense in your heart, forgive those that hurt you, and don’t give the enemy an open door to torment you.
It will eventually kill you.
Not sure where I found this, but was worth reposting. If the author is known, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org for proper credit to be given.