Flee and Pursue

Most men struggle with what the Bible calls “the lusts of the flesh”. We begin struggling around the time puberty and most struggle, in one form or another, for the rest of our adult lives.

Paul describes our struggle well in Romans 7:15-25. He goes on to say in Chapter 8 that Jesus has set us free form the “law of sin and death”, and that there is therefore now “no condemnation” in Him. It is an amazing truth that we are indeed set free from our old sin nature, and from the law working in our flesh. We don’t have to struggle with these sins any longer…..

But we do.  (1 Peter 2:11 – the lusts of the flesh, which war against your soul)

The more men I talk to, mentor and pray with, the more it is obvious that most are fighting a battle to take the moral high ground in their life – and keep it. Every time we are at our computer, in front of our TV, on the road traveling, home alone when the wife is away, or a dozen other scenarios – we are swarmed with little voices calling us, beckoning us to peek, to rent, to watch, to treat our flesh. Why won’t those thoughts (voices) just leave us alone?

Because we have an enemy. A diabolical, relentless enemy who is hell-bent on our destruction (and that of our marriage, our children, our finances, our future, our witness and our legacy). Yes, we live in a world at war, and we need to decide to suit up and live like it – every day. Even though the Bible says our enemy is disarmed and defeated – he is still “prowling around seeking who he may devour”. He can still take us out – IF we let him. IF we allow his thoughts and temptations to lure us into a mental conversation (like Eve did). If we begin to listen, then ponder, then agree with and justify our actions – we will fall every time. He is too good, too persuasive, to cunning. He has had centuries of practice.

What are we to do then? Well, the Bible, as usual, has an answer to our dilemma. Don’t try to talk him down, or reason with him. Just flee. Yep. Turn and run. Skeedaddle. Don’t think – run.

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2Tim.2:22 – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace

1 Timothy 6:11-12But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.

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Paul’s counsel to Timothy is good advice for all of us. But notice he advises not only to flee – but, to pursue something else. To fill that space in our thinking; to focus our eyes and thoughts on something else – something better. The first thing mentioned in both verses above is “righteousness” or right living. The right thing to do. The thing you know is right. What God would have you do. What your wife and children would want you to do.

First flee. Turn away from whatever is drawing us in – Then pursue (run) to what is right. Turn off the computer or TV immediately (or never turn it on) and get out your Bible, or a marriage book on cd, or your men’s Bible study. Run to something else – immediately. Not after you stumble and fall, and feel the need to get back into God’s good graces.

It sounds much easier than it is, right? But we can do it. God never asks us to do something He doesn’t give us the grace and ability to do.

Let’s start. Let’s try it this week. Whenever we hear the “call”, the voices, the beckoning to come look, come try, come indulge, or whatever – just flee and pursue.

I can do all things,

Rob

Good at What He Does

Yes, Satan is very good at what he does.

He was good at it in the Garden, and he has honed his skills even more since then. He knows God’s Word, and He knows how to twist it to make it sound just like “we” want it to sound. He knows our frame, and that we all are frail. He also knows not many of us live up to our name “Christians”, meaning “Christ followers”, or “little Christ’s”. He is well aware that most of us attend church, small group and pray occasionally, but that our daily, intimate walk with Christ is lacking.

Because of that – we try to live life in our own strength, and follow our own wisdom and reason. On any given day, we may not be filled with, and walking in the Spirit, so (by definition) we are walking in the flesh. The Word is very clear when it says – Galatians 5:16  – But I say,  walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify  the desires of the flesh. Implied by this verse is that the opposite is also true – if we do NOT walk by (in) the Spirit, we WILL gratify the desires of the flesh.

At any point in our day, we are either walking in the flesh, or walking in the Spirit. We are either thinking about, and pursuing the things of God, or the things of…us. We all know this truth in our head – but sadly, few of us deliberately walk this way. So, our enemy, the prowling lion, is sneaking around waiting for an opening. He is lurking. He is watching. He is ready for the slightest crack to appear in our armor.

He also springs into action. He uses his age-old lure that works the majority of the time when it is cast – opportunity. He brings about an opportunity to work with a fun-loving, attractive, ever-encouraging colleague of the opposite sex. He provides opportunity for your spouse to spend more time than he/she should with a close friend or neighbor also of the opposite sex. The opportunity to be alone with your computer, at a time when intimacy has been missing in your relationships.

There are multitudes of opportunities to get angry, withhold forgiveness, lust, lie, cheat, deceive, etc. – almost every day. Along with opportunity, he also offers his clever, deceiving, logical, diabolical thoughts as well. He whispers to us that we deserve, we owe ourselves, no one will know, it doesn’t really matter, just this once, it’s not that big a deal…..barrage of rationale that is time tested to draw up even closer to making the wrong choice. He is good at it.

He tried it on Eve (and Adam) and it worked well. He tried it on Jesus, and it didn’t work at all.

Yes, Satan is a pro. He is the “father of lies” and rejoices when he causes little Christ’s to stumble and fall. As we have said before, the battle field is in our mind. We have to know the truth, contained in God’s Word, speak it and walk by it every single day. There is no day off. Jesus knew that, and we better know and embrace it too. We are living in a war zone, and have a diabolical enemy who hates us, our marriage, our kids, our legacy, etc.

Two key verses we all need to know, and live by:

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for  the mature, for those who have their powers  of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

2 Corinthians 10:5We destroy arguments and  every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to  obey Christ,

Are we training our senses to discern the good influences (thoughts) from the evil? Do we readily recognize and deal with them?

When we hear his cunning, poison-filled thoughts/ideas – do we immediately recognize them for the crock they are, take them captive by speaking the Truth concerning those suggestions – and gaining victory?

Or – do we amble along, head down, doing our daily tasks, never thinking about what we’re thinking about? Are we setting ourselves up for failure by not deliberately, daily choosing to walk with our amazingly powerful and loving Father?

Again – our enemy WILL provide opportunities. We, however, still get to make the choices.

Praying for all of us. The war is real.

Rob

Taken

By Ashley McIlwain

The other night my hubs, Steve, and I were cuddled up having a movie night, and I was especially struck by the movie we were watching. Most of you have probably either seen it or heard about it; it’s called Taken.

The premise of the story is that this girl goes to Europe with her friend, and they are taken as part of a sex trafficking scandal. Her father sets out to rescue her with an unparalleled fervor and determination. And that’s what really stood out to me – this concept of pursuing and protecting the woman you love with everything you have.

Granted, the Taken scenario is not one many of us will find ourselves in thankfully. But every day we make decisions that either protect or endanger ourselves and our loved ones. Sometimes it’s physical endangerment, but I want to focus more on the spiritual, mental, and emotional endangerments that can sneak in.

There’s an innate desire within women to be pursued and protected. In one study researchers found that the top quality women look for in a potential mate is security. This doesn’t mean women are weak, but they appreciate and highly value a man that can protect them. And most men truly have an innate desire to protect; this is visible throughout the history of mankind.

Men have a unique opportunity and responsibility given to him as the leader of his home (Ephesians 5:25). Part of that role is protecting his wife and family from harm. While it may seem obvious how to protect one’s family physically, it may not be so apparent how to protect them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

Be Aware

During the scene in Taken where the daughter is snatched, the dad warns her that it’s going to happen. He tells her to prepare herself and to call out everything and anything she can see to help him identify who the culprits are. Ultimately those clues were key in helping him hunt the bad guys down.

A huge part of finding and keeping the “bad guys” out of your marriage is to identify the warnings and clues of their presence with the help of your spouse. Unlike the movie, you don’t have to wait for something to be taken before you can do something about it. By being aware and working together with your spouse to identify and nullify looming culprits, you can prevent the disaster from ever befalling.

This might mean pointing out some concerns. For example, your wife may tell you that some of the movies and television shows you are watching have way too much nudity in them. She is concerned about the impact it has on the two of you, and that it might be opening the door for impure thoughts. So, together you identify the potential for pornography issues, and you decide to prevent it from ever being a problem by checking the ratings of all movies and TV shows to make sure you don’t watch anything that contains nudity.

Be aware of your surroundings. What people and things are you allowing into your homes and lives that could potentially destroy your marriage and family? Sometimes those things are well disguised and seemingly harmless, but collaborate with your spouse to detect and eliminate them before you have to deal with the heart wrenching damage they can cause.

Fight

Life doesn’t always go as planned. There are times when we get blindsided, and we find ourselves facing a pile of rubble before us. What now?

Fight! It amazes me how easily people give up on their marriages and families.

“Well, she doesn’t love me anymore.”

“We’re just no longer happy together.”

“I’m not sure what happened, but it’s over.”

People, your marriage is worth fighting for! Maybe you guys aren’t happy anymore. Perhaps one or both of you screwed up big time. Maybe you don’t know what went wrong where, but that doesn’t mean you throw in the towel.

In Taken, the father doesn’t find his daughter right away. He has to do some heavy lifting. He fights through the failures, disappointments, dead ends, and disasters to get what he came for. He knew he loved his daughter, and he was on a mission to rescue her. Nothing interfered with that. Nothing stopped or deterred him.

That’s the kind of courageous love and leadership that husbands need to have. Your wife says she doesn’t love you anymore? You do what it takes to figure out what will make her feel loved, and you do that. You keep doing that until you win her heart back. It may take time, and you may get beat up a bit along the way. But, your marriage, your wife … they are worth fighting for no matter what.

Mission Accomplished

Taken has a happy ending (sorry to ruin for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet). What I love about the storyline though is that it took hard work, perseverance, courage, and tenacity to get there. The same is true for marriage.

Your marriage’s success depends on your willingness to fight for it … time and time again. Unlike any movie or fairytale, you will have to slay several dragons, defeat numerous opponents, fight many wars, and hurdle sometimes daily obstacles. You’ve got to constantly defeat your enemies and win the heart of your spouse.

Men, as the leader and protector of your home, you have a special mission. It’s up to you to step up bravely and protect your wife and kids. Be aware; what enemy is lurking outside your door waiting for you to crack it open allowing him to come in and steal away your family? Identify and eliminate that enemy before he does any damage. Fight; there are times where your adversary will breach the perimeter, and it’s up to you to defend and defeat him at any cost.

Loving your wife, defending your home, and protecting your family: that is your mission. Not only will your wife respect and revere your valor, but your marriage will stand the test of time. You have a choice to have your family taken, or to take it under your arm and near and dear to your heart.

(c)Foundation Restoration. This article was reprinted with permission. The original article can be viewed here.

Taken – http://foundationrestoration.org/2012/03/taken/

The Real You

I have a question for you. I have a question for all of us.

Who are you when no one else is around? When you are all alone…no one watching…no one but you. What do you think about? What do you watch on the television, or the computer? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of magazines do you ogle. Where do you allow your mind, or your body, to go?

Are we men of integrity? One definition I like for integrity is – who you are when no one is around.

Is there a difference in who you are when people are watching, and who you are when you are alone? If I am honest, I would have to admit that there was a time when there was a large chasm between the two. On the outside I was the poster child for a “good Christian young man” and performed in that role very well. On the inside though, in the dark places in my soul, I was far from “good”. I allowed my eyes, my heart and my mind to wonder to places not fit at all for a follower of Jesus. I always felt bad about it, and promised God I would never go there again….but you know the drill…. I fell again. Over and over again.

I took much solace in finding out that Paul himself understood my plight. He too struggled with his flesh, and evidently knew personally what it was like to stumble and fall repeatedly. Check this out – Romans 7:14-24

 14 We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a mortal, sold as a slave to sin.15 I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.16 Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right.17 So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me.18 I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it.19 I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do.20 If I do what I don’t want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I find that this law is at work: when I want to do what is good, what is evil is the only choice I have.22 My inner being delights in the law of God.23 But I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body.24 What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death?

Man, that sounds familiar, huh? Paul had a flesh that fought against the spiritual man inside who sincerely wanted to sincerely follow Christ. He refers to it as a struggle between spiritual and mortal, wanting to and not being able to, the real me and the sin that lives within me, good and evil, body and mind. Which is it? Is it all of these? The real you, or the you you want to be?

So, how do we ever keep our head above water? How do we ever win these battles? As you probably know – Paul found his answer…..he actually found THE answer…for all of us.

Romans 7:2525 Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Then he spends the entire next Chapter, and many other verses throughout the New Testament telling us how to walk in true victory. Not the shallow victory that we confess at church or small group, but the kind of victory that triumphs when we are all alone…at home, in a hotel room, at the office…when no one but God is watching. No one will probably ever know – but God will…and that matters more to us than anything.

Romans 8:1-3, 12-13 –  1 There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit, which brings us life in union with Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death.3 What the Law could not do, because human nature was weak, God did. 12 So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to.13 For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live.

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

There are so many more verses that tell us exactly how to walk in complete victory over those impulses, those urges, those magnets that draw us to sin like a moth to the flame. It is only by walking in the Spirit, every day, throughout the day, can we ever hope to have meaningful and lasting freedom. If you and I choose walk on our own, to (like Adam and Eve) choose our own path and turn our backs on the loving and powerful Spirit of God – we will fall…time and again..we will fall…until our “real” man is exposed for who he really is…and we will not be alone any longer. The world will know what our Father knows, and the consequences will be very painful.

What freedom to walk in true victory over the “sin that so easily beset us”, and enjoy the freedom we were offered at the cross of Calvary. The choice is ours to make….every day.

The real me,

Huz

 

 

Marriage is a War Zone

US-soldier

It seems every man I speak to these days seems to be fighting for something. Young and old, we all have things in our life that we feel are worth fighting for: kids education / promotion at work / more sales / more income/ better grades / a new or better job / popularity / fame / appreciation / better health …….

There always seems to be something going on in our lives that needs extra work, effort, struggle, toil, labor – fight.

Many of you fought, or are fighting, in a real war. Men have fought and died for our country and for noble causes since before our country was founded. For them, fighting is not an option. They wake up in a war zone every morning. The slightest miscalculation, or the least amount of inattention could cost them their life.

They cannot afford to take their life for granted. They cannot afford NOT to be diligent, deliberate, on guard, watchful – every day.

The cause is great and worth fighting for. Why else would they put their life, their future, their life at risk?

I want to take a moment to remind us all that we also live in a world at war. We have an enemy who is relentless, dangerous and merciless. He wakes every morning with the express goal of destroying our life, our marriage, our children, our finances, our morals, our witness and our legacy.

I meet men every week who are walking wounded, some mortally. They are dying inside and their world is falling apart. They wonder what went wrong, or where things got off track, and I have to remind them of the war. It seems they forgot there was a war going on, and an enemy hell-bent on their destruction – and they let their guard down.

They took off their armor. Their protective gear was uncomfortable, so they put it aside. The gun was heavy, so they put it down. Besides – they didn’t see or hear the enemy anywhere close by. Maybe the battle is over. Maybe there was a cease-fire, or a truce.

Sadly, they fall for the lie that the war is over or that the enemy has retreated. They let down their guard and stop living diligently. Before long, they become another statistic of war. Affairs, divorces, troubled kids, bankruptcy, depression, substance abuse, suicide …. the list gets longer and longer. No one is safe. I have seen noble Christian men fall to all the above. Men who I would have never believed would fall – but they did.

Our heavenly Father loves us so much that He warns us, and instructs us concerning what to do to prevent such a plunge.

Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Like the U.S. military, Christian husbands have been given the very finest in protective armor and the world’s most sophisticated weaponry – but they don’t help us at all if we don’t wear them and fire them. The enemy is relentless, but we have all the intelligence, power and resources we need to crush his attacks on every front.

Yes, there are many things in our life worth fighting for – but none more critical, more eternal, than the war against the enemy of God and His family. I pray you will consider re-enlisting in the war for the lives and hearts of the ones you hold most dear. They are worth fighting for. It is time we walk in the victory Christ paid for, and tear down the strongholds the enemy has built. Are you in?

Dressed for battle,

Rob

 

Is Purity Possible Today? – (Part 1)

We all know where the door is. You know….”that” door. The door to that sin that always seems to bring us down, and leave us feeling guilty, shameful and like a failure.  For most men, that door is the gateway to some sort of sexual sin.

There is something that draws us to that door; something powerful; something tantalizing; something we know is wrong but we continue to go back to it. We all know the path to “that” door for us. For one it may be the computer. For another, the television. For some it may be the cute retail clerk, or the bank teller. For some it is more of a mental door, a fantasy life that no one knows about but you and God. For many it is a female friend, or a friend’s wife, or an attractive colleague or business contact.

Each time we go there it seems it is easier to find, and not as far away as it once was. Somehow we are mysteriously fed by the danger. We know we shouldn’t, but our senses come alive to the adventure, even though we know it could cost us dearly.

Why then, if we know where the door is, and the steep price we pay (or could pay) for opening it and going in – do we keep going there? Are we addicted? Can we help ourselves? Are we slaves to our flesh? Is there any relief in sight, or is this the battle we must fight our entire life on earth?

We all know the Bible is very clear when it comes to dealing with sin of any kind. Even though we are forgiven by a generous, loving Father, we know sin has consequences, and some are life altering. Because God loves us and desires us to live an abundant life, free from the bondage to sin, He has also provided us “all things” we need to live that life. So what do we do with what we know?

Step 1 – Give Up

Sounds easy, but it’s not. Jesus said if we would “seek His kingdom, and righteousness first – He would provide us everything we need in this life. He told the disciples to “follow me, and I Will Make You fishers of men”. If we will deliberately and daily follow Him, (truly walk with Him, listen to His voice and do what He says) – He promises to “make us” into the men, husbands, dads, etc. He desires us to be – and we want to be.

The first step out of the bondage of sexual sin of any kind, is to acknowledge that we can’t free ourselves. He must give up and become desperate for Him. Desperate for time with Him. Desperate for long periods of time in His presence – in prayer and marinating in His Word. We have to make it our top priority, every day, or we will start to feel the magnetic pull coming from the door. Acknowledge that we can’t free ourselves, and fall on our face in humility and desperation.

Read Psalm 103….and read it often. We have a gracious, patient, loving, powerful Father and He is anxious to help us get free and stay free – but we have to do the following, and we have to choose to follow every day. He can’t make us do that part.

Romans 8:5 – Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 13:14 – Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

We are the only ones who can “live”, “set our minds”, “clothe ourselves”, “do not think about”. You and I both know that we can’t seem to do any of these for very long, or very consistently. We can’t free ourselves – we don’t have the power, and may not even want to. The old “I’ll try harder next time”, or “I’ll never do that again” sort of false promise to ourselves (and to God) just doesn’t  work. We have to give up and run to our only hope – Jesus.

He has everything we need, and He is longing to help.

Next post – Part 2 – Galatians 5:16 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Surrendered,

Rob

 

Hot Embers

Part three of a three-part series

When it comes to the flames of lust, it’s easy to claim innocence. You don’t watch those movies. You don’t go to those websites. You don’t frequent those clubs. But I have to ask, how do you handle the hot embers tossed your way that are seemingly impossible to avoid? The DVD covers at a movie rental store. The clothing catalogs in the Sunday paper with an assortment of bra-wearing models. A co-worker’s blouse that falls open for a moment.

Not a day went by during my journal experiment that I wasn’t aware of a sexually explicit message, and oftentimes, the images came so fast that I didn’t have time to look away. While it wasn’t possible to fend off every attack, I realized that I could be more strategic and limit my battles. I stopped watching commercials during football games. I quit watching movie trailers for films I never planned to see. I read the ingredients in cereal boxes while waiting in line at the grocery store to avoid the magazine covers.

My journaling experience showed me that I can’t take a passive approach to battling lust. Every morning when I wake up, I have to be prepared and wield several weapons.

Eye Protection

During one of my not-so-brilliant college moments, I joined some guys on a camping trip. One evening, we gathered around the campfire and practiced the fine art of tossing hot embers to each other with our bare hands. After a glowing coal was knocked free from the fire, we’d try to palm and release the ember in one fluid motion. Watching the hot rock twist through the air, I wondered, can I catch and toss a hot ember without getting burned?

King Solomon asked a similar question in Proverbs 6 after telling men not to play games with lust: Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?

When our macho coal-tossing game ended, I had the answer in my hands—burns and blisters.

You can’t catch a hot ember if you’re not looking at it. Look away, and the hot coal falls at your feet. No burns. No chance of scarring your palm like Nazi agent Major Toht in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

With today’s media choices, sexual images are impossible to avoid. But one of the greatest weapons you can use also takes a great deal of practice: bouncing your eyes off the sexual image. When your eyes spot a risqué ad, commercial, or picture, train your eyes to deflect off the sexualized woman without studying here.

Scripture – The Double-Edged Sword

I worked hard to memorize a passage from Proverbs, and I quoted it to myself whenever I felt a struggle coming. I used it as a war cry to psyche myself for battle, envisioning Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart shouting to his men as he rode up and down the line:

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is as bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep a path far from her. Do not go near the door of her house. (Proverbs 5:3-8)

The Map

This may not sound like much of a weapon, but it’s crucial to know the lay of the land and to understand where a combat may take place. Where are enemy troops positioned? Where is the high ground? Where should battles be avoided?

The journal gave me a map to my struggles. Flipping back through its pages, I saw the times, places, and instances I faced a battle with lust. With this knowledge, I can make wiser entertainment choices and limit my battles.

Maybe that means you stop surfing the Internet when you’re home alone. Maybe that means asking your wife to remove the advertisements before reading the Sunday newspaper. Maybe that means you screen movies before going to see them.

It wasn’t easy keeping a nude journal for a month, but it showed me that only playing defense to fend off thousands of digital mistresses every year will wear me down and lead to blindside sacks. I now have a playbook full of offensive strategies. I’m committed to this battle, and every morning I’m putting on my armor. It’s time for war. Will you join me?

Jon

200 Mistresses

Part two of a three-part series

I recently spent four weeks keeping track of the digital mistresses I allow in my life—every sexually suggestive message that assaulted my ears and every risqué image that enticed my eyes.  I wrote them all down in a journal, and at the end of the month, I tallied the number:

Two hundred.

Two hundred sexual images a month. Multiplied out, that’s 2,400 digital mistresses within a year’s time, way more than Solomon’s 1,000 wives and concubines. Guys, that’s not a skirmish. That’s an all-out blitzkrieg.

By and far, the most widely used entertainment mediums were covers for books, music, and movies (18%), website ads (17%), TV shows (14%), and commercials (14%). There weren’t many surprises when it came to the those outlets. But I was surprised at how often my innocent and passive actions still led to suggestive encounters. I couldn’t look at free Kindle downloads without scanning the covers of Harlequin novels. I couldn’t enter a department store without seeing swimsuit displays. And I couldn’t spend a couple of easy hours watching TV with my wife without picking up my notebook half a dozen times. And let me tell you about embarrassment—my wife was suddenly very aware of all the times I noticed another woman’s body.

There were a few times I wondered if my journal was worth the effort. Toward the end of the month I was tired of the constant journaling, burdened by my sudden awareness of battles, and unsure if my measures were making any real changes. And then one night I had a dream. Most of the time I don’t put stock in my dreams, but this one stood out. In my dream, I was playing chess in the woods with one of my brothers (I don’t play chess, and especially not in a forest). A car pulled up nearby, and a woman wearing a bikini stepped out.  And here’s the part that blew my mind. In my dream, I looked away. The moment I realized she was wearing something revealing, I turned my eyes away.

This was the reassurance I needed from God that He was beginning a new work in me. Even in my dreams, He was giving me the strength and ability to guard my eyes and thoughts, to make a covenant like Job did: I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.

I love my wife, and she deserves my greatest efforts to keep a path far from sexual temptation, wherever it resides. That doesn’t mean I cut off all forms of entertainment, but it does mean I become more aware of my choices and make some difficult decisions to reroute my life around sexually explicit images.

Jon

The Nude Journal

Guest host Jon shares a 3-part series on his wrestling match with lust. I hope his honest and candid approach will speak to each of us, and encourage us in our struggle.

Part one of a three-part series

I recently spent a month carrying a journal around. Everywhere I went, I slipped the black-and-white composition notebook under my arm, ready to jot down observations:

“Female customer wears low-cut blouse and shows cleavage.”

“Woman in bra for Target ad.”

“Movie: Angelina Jolie takes off her clothes.”

I’d better explain.

I’ve given up my passive approach to battling lust. It hasn’t worked. If I wait until temptation strikes before strapping on armor and unsheathing my weapons, it’s too late and I’m caught in my boxers. So instead, I’m facing the enemy head on, storming the beach and taking the hill. And that’s where my journal comes in. I needed a map to show me exactly where my war is waged.

Just as “food” journals encourage people to take a critical look at their eating habits, I kept a four-week “nude” journal to take an honest look at my daily intake of risqué images. I wanted to see if I’d developed a habit of “snacking” on impure images throughout the day, of taking in more sexual pictures than I realized.

I don’t visit pornographic websites or watch sexually graphic movies. But there are times I walk down the street toward pornography’s house—not to knock on the door and enter but for the chance to take a quick glance in an open window; such as visiting a sports or political website knowing that there may be a sexy thumbnail on the homepage. I don’t click the link, but it’s enough to quicken my heart.

In keeping this journal, my rules were simple. Whenever I became aware of a sexual image or message, I had to write it down along with my response. (A sexual image constituted any time I’d be embarrassed if the depicted woman was in the same room with me and my wife walked in). Thus, I jotted down shampoo commercials when a woman soaped up, even though our culture wouldn’t consider this a sexual message.  But the fact that I’m seeing her bathe through a screen rather than in person shouldn’t matter.

This journal forced me to take an honest look at lust in my life and examine my daily habits. I also wanted to know how many times a day I had to choose between taking a lustful look or bouncing my eyes.

I hope the next couple of blog posts help you understand one guy’s wrestle with lust. And know this, by the Holy Spirit’s prompting and through this month-long journal, light has shined upon specific struggles, and chains that have become all too comfortable are being broken.

Jon

Part 2 coming very soon…….

Can You Hear Them?

We hear them almost every day. Lies. Falsehoods. Untruths.

They seem to sneak in like uninvited guests, and try to get our attention. Moreover, they try to get us to agree with them. You may have heard some of them before:

‘No one will ever know”

“She just doesn’t get it”

“I wish my wife was more like….”

“Viewing a little pornography won’t hurt anything”

“I can’t live like this. I need someone who will make me happy”

“Things will never change”

“I’m such a failure”

Yes, we have all heard them….and thousands more like them. Our enemy is a relentless liar, accuser and deceiver. If he can get you to agree with one of his lies, he can get you to question things, excuse things, rationalize things and act on things – that you shouldn’t. This is exactly what happened to Eve. She looked, she listen, she pondered and then agreed with what he said. She eventually acted on her agreement and ate the forbidden fruit.

We are no different. None of us is too strong. None of us is exempt. Mightier men have fallen to the schemes of our enemy. Proverbs warns us – “ABOVE ALL ELSE, guard your heart”. Above ALL else is a pretty strong phrase. This must be pretty important. A warning from God to each of us. Peter also reminds us to “Be alert”, because we have a deadly enemy prowling about.

If we are to lead victorious lives; successfully lead our wives and children and leave a lasting legacy that glorifies our God – we must stay alert. Every day, throughout the day, we must guard our heart (mind) from the lies and schemes of our enemy. We must acknowledge that we are each capable of falling, and are therefore desperate for a close walk with the Shepherd. Only by His side are we safe.

Isolation will kill you. Seriously, God Himself spoke that “it is not good for man to be alone” If He said it – it is true. Don’t walk through this war zone alone. Stay close to Him and close to your fellow warriors. We need each other.

Success? We can’t stop the thoughts from coming. What we can do is “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ“.(I Cor. 10:5). We must not ever agree with the lies spoken to us by our foe. Keep your mind in God’s Word and know the truth. That truth WILL make us free, and allow us to live life as He intended – abundantly.

Find a mentor,

Rob