Tuesday, December 9, 2014

You're A Loser!

I remember being called that a few times while sharing the gospel.  Most of the time it was while I was open-air-preaching downtown at the Des Moines Farmers Market.  I can still hear the disdain in the young man's voice and the laughter of his friends around him.  There was even those moments when I actually believed what they were yelling and said to myself, "What am I doing?  Is this even making any difference?"   The other day I saw this quote by Martin Luther and it really struck me. 
 "The righteous man always resembles more a loser than a victor, for the Lord lets him be tested and assailed to his utmost limits as gold is tested in a furnace."  

Martin Luther. 
I think about some of the conversations I have with friends in the mission field and how they feel like losers. Many of them gave up good paying jobs.  Some move thousands of miles away to live in third-world countries to minister to people who are eating dirt on the bottom of the totem pole.  Or those who have jobs in ministry, serving local ministries to teach other welfare cases like themselves about Christ.  Others who don't have hobbies or play sports but thrive on studying and teaching God's word and serving others who can't give back, and those who do give back, give them grief, steal from them, and stab them in the back. Or those who instead of baiting a hook and fishing for actual fish, fish for men with gospel tracts out on the street and look like fools in the eyes of the world.  Talking with these men and how disheartening it must be to give all you can and then at the end of the day, month, year look back and see what looks like a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" with not one piece of fruit on it.    
But giving up is not an option.  For to them and to me the bible is full of those who by quick glance are perceived as losers, but are actually winners. Men like John the Baptist, who lived in a tent eating bugs and whose only comfort was itchy clothes of camel skin coat (Matthew 3:4), but to God there was no greater prophet than him (Luke 7:28). Or Moses, who was abandoned by his mother (Exodus 2:1-4) and stuttered (Exodus 4:10), only to answer the call of God lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt (Exodus 3:1-10) (Exodus 14:30-31).  Or Paul [Saul], who had everything going for him as a Pharisee in training (Philippians 3:4-6) only to give it all up for Christ who is way better (Philippians 3:7-11).  Or Jesus, who was born among dirty animals in less than a barn(Luke 2:6-7).  Yet, He was God in the flesh and savior of the world. 

No one wants to be called a loser.  No one strives to become one.  It's not the end game for any of us.  It's not part of our plan.  The plan though is that if you are a Christian, a child of God, God will use all things together for good to those who love Him  and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  He uses the weak, the dumb, and not so talented (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).  God puts the last first, and the first last (Matthew 20:16).

This gives me great comfort knowing that no matter what I do, or who I am, it will not be in vain.  Not only that, but why do those go to great lengths to help others?  Because of their love for God, and their love for man.  It's the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Book Review: FINALLY FREE - Fighting For Purity With The Power of Grace by Heath Lambert

In the realm of battling pornography addiction, there is not alot of help in this area.  We have in recent years
just begun to touch the tip of the iceberg of what causes this addiction, and what it does to the human body physically and psychologically.  Websites have surfaced like Covenant Eyes Accountability Software to help in this battle.  Internet blocking has only started in the past few years to help with this, and even web servers are starting to block porn at the ISP level.

But pornography has increased in a dramatic rate, and has overtaken and saturated the culture. Porn has gone from pictures, to movies, to VCR cassettes, to DVD's, and now has saturated the web and is available free on phones and other portable devices to access from anywhere at any time.  It has become a multi-billion dollar industry that is only getting bigger and its destruction is felt world-wide.

I recently bought a book on my Kindle called Finally Free - Fighting For Purity With The Power of Grace by Heath Lambert because of my own battles with porn and wanting to win this war over my soul.  I have purchased other books in years past like Every Man's Battle by Arteburn & Stoeker as well as the book/DVD combination Freedom Begins Here by Pat Springle forwarded by Gary Smalley.  I have even viewed websites and YouTube videos on the topic, but they only left me angry, bitter against myself, hopeless, and have even fueled my lust even more with the images and graphic detail I don't need.  

But Finally Free was different than any other book I have read or even known about in the topic of porn.  What's the difference?  All other books, videos, web content focused on the action rather than the cause, whereas Finally Free focused on the cause in why we look at porn, and tools to help prevent lustful thoughts from overtaking us.  They are guilt motivated or needs based rather than gospel oriented and practical to our lives and gives us a new pattern of living.  All other websites and books seemed to make it worse by fueling my lust in graphic, sexual detail.This book even has useful, practical strategies that we need in our daily life.  Not just feeling bad about it in the aftermath, but preparing our hearts way before we even think about looking at porn.  It's not enduring the moment when you look at porn, but taking the steps to rebuilding and fortifying the walls of our heart so that we don't have to even endure the enemy face to face.

Grace empowers obedience.  Grace is not only God's unmerited favor, but it's also God's power to us and is used in every tool that this book uncovers.  Grace is the thread in which sews the individual parts of a coat of overcoming porn.  Those individual tools are:
  • Gratitude - Greed and selfishness feeds porn.  It's what drives sin in the hearts of man.  Porn is only consumed by thankless people.  To battle porn we need to grow in the attitude of gratitude and thankfulness.  If your married, grown in the thankfulness of your spouse.  What are the ministries and responsibilities that God has given you?  Be thankful for them and the jobs that the Lord has asked you to do. What has the Lord done for you?  Meditate on these and be thankful.  Thankfulness and gratitude results in gladness and joy.  
  • Relationship with Jesus - Abide in Jesus.  Yearn to be like Him, not just pray to Him to end your porn addiction.  Praying to God to end your addiction is like the crowds praying for bread in John 6.  Instead, Heath tells us to pray to Jesus to be more like Him, to draw close to Him, and to spend time with Him, and the rest will follow. 
  • Sorrow - 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 says there are two types of sorrow...one that leads to obedience, and one that doesn't have any lasting change.  Not all sorrow is created equal.  Worldly sorrow is only concerned about keeping the objects of selfish desire, while Godly sorrow is pained over a break in the relationship with God.  It's heartbroken about hurting or offending a just and holy God and grieving the Holy Spirit.  
  • Confession - Not only confessing your sin to God, but to others.  But even more importantly who we are to confess to, and how.  You are not to confess to just anyone, and this book gives a great plan on how to do that because you could make matters worse and hurt more people with your sin.  
  • Humility - Only arrogant men and women look at porn...period.  Men look at porn out of an arrogant desire to see women in a way that God does not allow.  Considering salvation (what God has done in your life and saving you from your sin), sin (the depth of your sin that God has forgiven), and service (how you use your time).
  • Accountability - Getting an accountability partner and how to appropriately choose an accountability partner is extremely important.  Heath does an amazing job in doing that and helping us choose a person that will help us rather than keeping us in a place of sin and hurting the person we chose to be our accountability partner.  Not only this, but he gives help to the accountability partner to show him/her, what their roles are and what is their job description as an accountability partner is.  
  • Radical Measures - How to take radical measures and get serious about dealing with our sin as a whole and not just in porn.  Repenting immediately, remembering scripture, and reaching out for help are very important in this battle.  Heath also goes into great detail about taking radical measures in the use of our time, and cutting off access to pornography which could radically change our lives and can be extremely important in helping us become porn free.  
  • Your Spouse (if you have one) - Not as a police officer in the "Porn Police", but as an encourager.  Never ever use your spouse as an accountability partner.  You need someone as the same sex.  You cannot be a wife and be a private investigator in your husband's porn issue.  
If you haven't caught on though, this book is written to Christians.  Why?  Because only by faith in Jesus Christ and the power that comes through the relationship with Him can you have victory in this area.  Grace and mercy are given to those who are children of God and the only way to be a child of God is to be repent of your sins and trust in Christ Jesus the spotless lamb and sacrifice for your soul.  If you would like to know more about how to be right with God, please CONTACT ME.  It's not a hidden that porn is a problem not only in the world, but also the church.  We struggle with issues like this too.  But it's a struggle.  Sheep get dirty and once in a while we need a bath.  This book helps with that.  

Heath Lambert is not only very knowledgeable in this area, but just helps realize the power in us through the Holy Spirit to life a life of purity in the eyes of the Lord.  This book can be given to teens as well as adults. I believe this book could be given to sons and daughters as well as teens in your Youth Groups at church.  Its written clearly, respectfully, and clean with no cause for embarrassment.  If you have a problem with pornography, and want out, have tried many other ways to be free from porn, and just want to live in the grace God offers, I highly recommend this book.  

Here is an interview with Heath Lambert by Covenant Eyes TV about his book Finally Free.