Posts Tagged ‘love’

Recently, I challenged my church to take the 30-Day Sex Challenge.

OK, I’m not that “cool”. I stole the idea from another pastor who tried this years ago at his church in FL.  See the article 

In a nutshell, the challenge is:  If you’re married, work on PLEASING YOUR SPOUSE physically and emotionally over the next 30 days. If you’re single, COMMIT to ABSTINENCE.

The reasons?  1) Singles are deceived. 2) Marriages are falling victim to all kinds of temptations and bombardments.

First, singles believe that “playing the field” or living together before you’re married is the answer to a more fulfilling sex life. Actually, it isn’t.  See article This unbiased sociological study says that cohabiters are MORE LIKELY to never marry, to get d ivorced (if they get married), to have extramarital affairs, and be less satisfied sexually.  No thanks.  I love this article because it doesn’t come from a Christian source, yet it upholds the values outlined in the Bible for saving sex for marriage. It contradicts the lie that most singles pursue on a regular basis.

Second, marriages are losing battles on several fronts. Well-meaning married couples aren’t being intentional about PLEASING each other anymore.  They are stressed and overwhelmed. Their energy is sapped.  Some haven’t been intimate in months. Some have lost their romance all together.  There HAS to be a SOLUTION. There has to be something BETTER THAN THIS.

The rescue?  SEX.  Sex was created by God for the mutual enjoyment of a couple in the wondrous bond of marriage. It was the literal ACT that defined marriage in the Bible. It was the one thing that differentiated a marriage relationship from others.  What if a husband and wife had such a strong bond relationally, emotionally and physically, that they could easily repel any temptation?  What if all their needs were met by their SPOUSE?  What if they were so SATISFIED with each other that they didn’t need to seek fulfillment elsewhere.  That’s why the challenge is important!

Proverbs 5:18-20 (MSG) 18 …Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! 19 Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose— don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! 20 Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a [prostitute]? for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?

Isn’t the Bible great?  Enjoying your spouse is ENCOURAGED in the BIBLE!  This weekend, we honored some couples who had been married the longest. We had two couples in our church who’d been married over 50 years!  The secret to their success?  They have never stopped dating each other. They enjoy each moment with each other and they see each day as a  new adventure.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 (MSG) 9 Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! 

Will YOU take the 30-day Sex challenge? 

I get asked this question all the time.

How far can I go without “going all the way”? How much can I do without doing too much?  How far to the edge can I get without falling off?

God’s picture is much different.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV) 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Out of all the sins mentioned in the Bible, sexual sin is the only one God says to RUN FROM. It’s like a tractor beam. It appeals and entices. God says DON’T stand and fight, FLEE!  Why? I believe that while every sin is equal in terms of how it separates us from God,  no sin has a greater earthly consequence.  Sexual sin ruins families, breaks trust, destroys marriages, taints ideals, creates false identities, manipulates and deceives.

The real question should be:  How far away can I get from something that can kill me?

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

What does “not even a hint” insinuate? Are you encroaching on that line or as far from it as possible?

What are your boundaries?  Maybe it’s time to redraw your lines.  Where are you tempted the most to sin sexually?  Movies? Pornography? Second glances? Prolonged hugs? Putting yourself in compromising dating situations? Clothing?  I read this week about a Victoria’s secret model who quit her job for her faith.  (don’t worry–very tasteful article) She felt her job was crossing her boundaries.  Now THAT’s drawing a LINE!

Our boundaries: My wife and I have exchanged passwords on our emails and facebook accounts.  We allow each other to view our txt conversations whenever.  We can check browser histories & have software to monitor sites we visit. We will NOT be alone with someone of the opposite sex.  Those are some of our boundaries. We don’t BREACH them because we care about TRUST in our marriage.  Sound a little drastic? Maybe. But it works for us.  What are some of your boundaries?

Jesus said it this way:

Matthew 5:27-30 (NIV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off & throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

He was talking about how to deal drastically with sin in your life.  What are some drastic measures you need to take?

What do you need to “gouge out” or “throw away”?  Stop going to the gym, Quit your jobCancel your internet, Don’t return a txt msg, Drop internet coverage, Change your Cell phone number, Remove them from Facebook, Don’t meet for lunch

Sound over-the-top? Ya maybe. But I’d rather be extreme than lukewarm.  I’d rather leave no doubt on honoring God and pleasing my wife.  I think I read that somewhere once.

How far is too far?

This story has changed my life. I hope it changes yours!

“The Room” by Joshua Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I Have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed At.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger,” “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

“No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

 

 

My family has a long history of adoption. I was adopted when I was 3 months old. My brother and sister were adopted when they were 2 & 5 years old. (I was 6 at the time). I was fortunate to be raised in a loving, Christian family.  Looking back, I realize just how lucky I was to be a part of something so special.  My brother and sister were, too.  In fact, they had come out of a rough situation.  I believe adoption literally saved their life! [pictured: me; my brother, Ted; sister, Samantha; dad, Richard; mom, Leslie]

Naturally, after starting a family of my own it was our dream from day 1 of our marriage to adopt a child.  After having 3 beautiful daughters, it was a tremendous blessing and answer to prayer that we were able to finally adopt our son, Zeke.  [above picture was taken at Zeke’s adoption with our family and his birth mom Nov. 18, 2006]

Why did we want to adopt?

  • Because the need is so great. There are thousands of kids “in the system.”  Many of them are victims.  Some have suffered abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, etc.) Many of them have suffered from abandonment or neglect.  Some are just victims of circumstance.  (parents have been imprisoned or are unable to care for them financially).  Our thinking is: “They have to go somewhere, why not go to a loving family?”
  • Because our responsibility is high.  We see adoption or foster care as our way of “paying it forward”.  Some people are natural “parents”.  We feel God has gifted us in this capacity. Therefore, like any other God-given gift it’s our responsibility to use this to raise up each child as we’re able.  We want to give them the chance to grow up into the man or woman God destined them to be.
  • Because the impact lasts a lifetime.  It’s a chance for us to really make a difference in the world.  We love to coach.  We love to teach. We love to parent.  When you invest in the younger generation, you invest in the future.  You affect future families.  Future businesses. Future ideals. Who knows what invention this child will create.  What book will they write?  What generosity will they spread?  What idea will they produce? Who’s life will they influence?  What legacy will they leave?  What cure will they discover? What mystery will they solve?
We’re excited to be a part of a great adoption story! It’s cool to know that “adoption” is the word the Bible uses to describe what God has done for us:
Ephesians 1:4-7 (NIV)
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
“Adoption” in this text means to “receive an inheritance that wasn’t previously ours.”  God’s adoption liberated us from sin, pain, death and eternal separation.  I promised not to get “preachy” in this post, but that’s pretty awesome.    Adoption frees, liberates, rescues.
We invite you to join us in adoption or foster care.  Will you open your home and your heart?

Will you consider adoption or foster care as a result of this blog?

If you have an adoption story, we’d love to hear it.  If you are thinking about adopting, we’d love to hear from you!