Posted in Life, Movies

Free Porn…and the consequences

The episode of Friends when Joey and Chandler find free porn on their TV bothers me, but it also reveals some truths about pornography. The two are afraid to turn off the TV because they are afraid the porn will disappear. Firstly this shows how addictive porn can be. This is not the only time the characters demonstrate their addiction to pornography. Just episodes before, Monica entices her friends to come hang out at her apartment by offering cookies and, you guessed it, porn. It’s sad how easily people are drawn to this distortion of God’s creation, but it’s scary how prevalent and addicting the habit is. The episode closes with Joey and Chandler turning off their television set. They are relieved to hear silence, but immediately they must turn the TV back on to see if they still the have free porn. It is addictive.

Secondly, the show reveals the effect porn has on the viewer. Towards the end of the episode, Chandler reveals to Joey that he was disappointed that the woman at the bank didn’t immediately want to have sex with him. Joey had a similar experience. Porn, and the habit of watching it, distorts reality. God created sex, so sex in and of itself is not bad, but God created sex for marriage. Pornography makes that sacred moment seem like a cheap side show. It could be likened to serving filet mignon at McDonalds .

Lastly, I want to point out that none of the characters have healthy, lasting relationships (aside from Chandler in very late the series). I don’t think that is a coincidence. Their view of relationships and intimacy is distorted by the culture around them, namely in this instance, pornography. While I enjoy the best show’s witty banter and Comic moments, I simply cannot approve of the lifestyles the characters lead. I shake my head and remind myself that they do not know Jesus. Their lives would be so much fuller if they did.

Posted in Life

Facebook

Maybe it’s time to deactivate Facebook again. My heart is drawn there when it’s sad instead of drawn to Jesus. I find myself seeking comfort by scrolling when true comfort comes from Jesus. It’s easy to find myself scrolling mindlessly and letting my more creative outlets fade into the lie of “I don’t have time”. Ultimately it is a temptation to compare and judge myself and others positively and negatively.

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Matthew 18:7‭-‬9 ESV

I need to run from this temptation to waste time, judge others and myself, and worship a false god. It may be temporary because I do see some benefit in having an easily accessible account. I’m praying about the right way to do this or if God simply wants to shift my mindset towards Facebook. I don’t want to lose contact with people, but I have to trust that God will keep the people I need and who need me in my life other ways.

For now I’ll delete the apps, but I’ll keep listening to God about the heart matter and what methods he’ll use to heal me. Pray with me?

Just so you’re aware, I have a cell phone that works when I hold my head the right way and get signal, another number that runs off WiFi, and a landline. I also update on Instagram (where I feel like I have more control over myself) and this blog (where I would love some comments and interaction). I also answer old fashioned knocks on the door if you’re in the area.

Posted in Bible Study, Life

Still Heeding The Signs

A re-post from two years ago: Heed the Signs

As I re-read the Old Testament, I often wonder why Israel kept turning their back on God. Then I realize that they were simply choosing to ignore the signs. Then I look at my own life. Why do I continually struggle with the same sins over and over again? Why can’t I get my act together? The answer is the same. I sub-consciously think, “those rules are only a suggestion. I can do it my way just this once”. Just this once repeats itself over an over. The signs and rules are there for a reason.

And yes, I am still tempted to speed in a construction zone.

The drive back from my brother’s graduation was frustrating. In my mind, taking the Interstate means I can go between 70 and 75 mph. Today though, my route involved numerous sections of construction, which forced me to slow down to 55 and sometimes come to a complete halt. But before this becomes a rant session, let me get to my point.

It would have been very easy to ignore the 55 mph signs because I did not see any cops nearby and the other cars were going at whatever speed they wished. Only my conscience and integrity kept me hovering right below 60 mph. And maybe my paranoia of getting pulled over. If I had not heeded the sign, there could be so many negative consequences, such as tickets (double fine, eek!), wrecks, deaths, etc. It is true that the probability of those things happening is slim, but it wasn’t worth the risk.

The sign was there for a reason.

Recently, a note in my Bible told a story about a (fictional) shark sign at a beach. People get frustrated when they go to the beach and see a sign that says they shouldn’t swim because of potential sharks in the water. They might be angry at the sign itself for being there, when in reality the sign is only a warning and protection from something more dangerous. If they swam in the waters anyway, it is true that they might not encounter sharks at all, but they could also very well come across sharks. The sharks could feel threatened and attack, maiming or killing the swimmers who were simply mad at the sign.

The sign was there for a reason.

Similarly, many non-Christ followers and some Christ followers will complain that the law and rules laid out in the Bible are too constricting in our modern world. This is not a new complaint. Paul dealt with the same thing with the Christians in Rome to whom Romans is addressed. Some complained about the law being unimportant since Christ came, but Paul argues that the law is useful to show him his sin. (Romans 7: 7-8).

In the previous two stories the signs showed me and the beach goers the potential evils in the respective situation: wrecks, tickets, or death, and sharks. The law, written in the Old Testament and lived by Christ in the New Testament, shows us the evil of sin. Paul points out that he would have never have known that coveting is wrong if the law did not show him. The law is there because sin came into existence with Adam and Eve. The law is there to protect us from the consequence of sin, which is eternal death and separation from God.

The problem with this is that sin is so powerful that it warped the image of the law in our minds. Humans for a long time have seen it as something that constricts us from doing what is fun and pleasurable. Humans also sometimes see the law as something that dooms us to death and separation from God if we can’t live the law to a T (Romans 7:13). As Paul points out, the problem is not with the law, which is perfect and protects us if we follow it. The problem is that we are sinful beings. Adam and Eve proved that. They had one restrictive law: don’t eat the fruit on that tree. But they did. Sin is powerful and it rules us if we let it.

Thankfully, we have the laws of the Old and New Testament as a form of protection from sin. What is even better than that is that we have Christ/Holy Spirit/God also as our greatest Protection from sin (Romans 7:24-25). With His power, we are able to resist the power of sin. Thank God!

So now our job is to heed the signs to avoid the messes we get ourselves into when we sin. We can rely on God’s power and strength in order to keep the laws.

The signs (laws) are there for a reason.

 

Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

Blogging for Books: Messy Grace

I’ll have to admit that when I first opened Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach, I trod very lightly around his arguments and stories, but about halfway through the book, I was nodding triumphantly and wondering who to share the book with once I’m finished. Caleb Kaltenbach grew up with a two mothers and a father who eventually also admitted to same-sex attractions. His childhood was full of people who had been hurt by Christians judging their lifestyle. As an teenager, Caleb began exploring church in order to pick holes in their arguments but ended up finding Christ. He said that when he read Jesus’s words in the Bible, “they ripped [him] apart”. He faced rocky roads as he admitted to his parents that he had a new faith which didn’t approve of their lifestyle.

I believe this book was written before the latest Supreme Court ruling about same-sex marriage. That decision shook many people in my community and scared them about the future. To be honest, it scared me a bit too because I wasn’t sure what it would mean for the future. Kaltenbach gave me some hope when he reminded his readers that no matter what happens in the world, God will be with us.That helped me breathe just a bit and realize that it was going to be okay.

The next subject to tackle was how to treat people whose lifestyle is different than mine and goes against some of my core beliefs. Kaltenbach definitely stands in the “sins are equal in God’s eyes” camp. He strongly makes the argument that even though the sin of a homosexual lifestyle is a huge part of someone’s life, God can still forgive it just like any other sin. Therefore, our us-versus-them mentality is costing opportunities to show Christ to people. When we exclude people from our lives because of differences, we aren’t treating people like Christ.

He doesn’t believe that God created some people to be gay. He does believe that the feelings are very real to people for one reason or another and that just like any sin, it would be very hard for them to give up the lifestyle when they choose to completely give their life to Christ. He also believes that it is very possible for a person experiencing same-sex feelings to live a life committed to Christ. His premise is that people can have these thoughts but if they rely on Christ to give them the strength to not act on the feelings. His experiences brought him to the conclusion that the best options are to practice celibacy or a heterosexual marriage based on honesty.

He says, “we should try to help people whose overriding identity is LGBT to become people whose overriding identity is disciple.” I think this means we should not treat people as simply sinners. Yes, everyone sins, but that doesn’t mean our identity has to remain “sinner”. Christ erases that identity and gives us a new identity. “As disciples, we need to let people know that God does not hate them but loves them. God is not mad at them. Rather, he is mad for them.”

His overarching message is that the gospel is messy because there is grace and tough truth. He encourages us to live in tension between grace and truth. Refrain from leaning too far to either side. Tell the truth about God’s words when it is time, but also show God’s love.

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 for combining personal experiences and being completely honest. He makes it very clear that this book is only his interpretation of the Bible so it’s okay for readers to find points of disagreement.

For more information:

Book Information

Author Information

blog

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

I just want to add a few reviews for the book for those who are still unsure.

“There is no shortage of books on how Christians can lovingly and meaningfully engage their gay family members and friends. Caleb Kaltenbach has an important message for everyone who shares a commitment to both grace and truth.” — Jim Daly, president, Focus on the Family

Caleb’s story is surprising and unique, and he weaves it together compellingly. He states his views clearly, leaves room for disagreement, and champions love no matter where you are in this conversation.” — Jud Wilhite, senior pastor, Central Christian Church

Some authors have inspirational stories to tell while others have insightful points to make, what makes Caleb’s writing so powerful is that God has given him both.” — Kyle Idleman, author of Not a Fan and teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY

Posted in Monologues from the Cross

Monologues from the Cross: Mary

I am Mary, mother of Jesus. What seems like not so long ago, an angel visited me. At the time I was engaged to Joseph, but this angel told me some news that almost broke that engagement. The angel told me that I was pregnant with the Son of God. This was terrifying yet exciting news. I still don’t understand why God would choose me, but the angel told me that some day my son would be king in a kingdom that would never end. I trusted the Lord and the Lord provided for me.

As my son, who I called Jesus, grew up, I remembered this angel’s visit, but it wasn’t until the last few years of his life that I really began to see his greatness shine. He began preaching and gathering crowds. I heard stories of him healing sick children and raising men from the dead. I was proud of how my son was following His Heavenly Father because I knew that God was Jesus’ father, not Joseph. Then I started hearing stories of people threatening to hurt my son. There was nothing I could do because I simply had to trust that God was protecting my son.

The day they put him on that cross was the worst day of my life. For most people in the crowd, Jesus was simply a leader or a friend, but that was my son up there, dying and in pain. I never for a moment doubted his innocence; I simply trusted that God had everything under control. Even though I trusted, I still wept as they beat him, mocked him, and humiliated him. My heart broke when he called out to his Father in heaven “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I was proud as he talked with the other two criminals near by and then as he forgave his mockers. Finally he breathed his last and said “It is finished.” As much as it hurt to see my son die, I knew that his death was a sacrifice to atone for the sins of everyone.

I left the cross with a heavy heart. After the Sabbath was over, I went with Mary Magdalene to visit the tomb. When we arrived, there was a great earthquake and an angel appeared. Since this was only the second time I had been visited by an angel, I was still surprised by the bright light and powerful voice. He told us to not fear and that Jesus was not in the tomb. The angel showed us his death garments where the body used to be, but there was no body. We ran quickly to tell the men what we had seen and heard. It was a wonderful day! My son had risen from the grave. He had proved to everyone that he truly is the Son of God!

My story is anything than ordinary, but I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything else. I am grateful to God to even play such a small role in the life of Jesus and in bringing salvation to all.

Posted in Bible Study

In Response to Augustine

This is written in response to the part of Augustine’s Confessions which says “You awaken us to delight in your praise. You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” To read the entire passage, visit this website.

Reading this passage by St. Augustine makes my heart go “oh…”. A heart sigh of pleasure and contentment and understanding. Prior to reading this, my heart felt restless and sad and lonely. Doubts crept in forming tears in my eyes. I wondered if I was living the life I was meant to live. I worried for the future. I felt alone and didn’t know how to fix it. So much of my personality felt wrong yet so much a part of me that I couldn’t relinquish it without losing myself. Augustine points out that my heart will remain that way until I allow it to rest in God. So I breathe and choose to rest even while living a busy life. I listen to the voice- that still, small voice- that says, “you are mine, dear child. Stop your fretting and be free.” For in the silence of my heart, God speaks His words of truth.

This passage makes me ponder the wonderful grace of God that He would choose first to create me and then to dwell in me. There are so many other places He could be, yet he chooses to be in my heart. How can the magnitude of God fit inside of this minuscule and mortal body? The heavens and the earth can’t contain God, yet He can be completely within me.

I am reminded that my faith is a gift from God, the greatest gift I could ever receive. Because of this, I ask for more faith daily so that I can learn to trust God more and more. Yet even a small amount of faith in God can move a mountain. That’s the power of God within me, nothing that I earned or deserve, yet given to me freely.

Then come the times that I allow my faith to shift focus to myself. Pride takes over and selfish desires direct my steps. God dwells in me, so when I sin, I take Him to those places. That saddens me and fills me with shame. Yet it is only by His grace I am forgiven and set free. God dwells in my heart, inebriating it and allowing me to forget my sin if only for a moment. I can rest in knowing that Jesus’ blood has covered me so thoroughly that God does not shy away from being within me providing the rest I am experiencing. I do not have to look back at my forgiven sins because I can look into the presence of God when I look into myself now. He has taken my sins and cast them to the bottom of the ocean.

Yet it is also a privilege to be reprimanded by God. Discipline means that God is part of my life. so while the discipline is painful, I thank God for loving me enough to do so. Parents who love their children discipline them so that the children can become better adults. In my youth of my salvation, God disciplines me so that I can grow to be more and more like Him, full of perfection.

All of this is why I plead “let me run towards this voice and seize hold of you.” God, I want more and more of You. I am thirsty for You and long to be near You. I would be nothing without You, God, so I want to remain forever in Your presence. Draw me near for I need You, God. I don’t understand You but I want You. Fill me!

Posted in Bible Study

Heed the Signs

The drive back from my brother’s graduation was frustrating. In my mind, taking the Interstate means I can go between 70 and 75 mph. Today though, my route involved numerous sections of construction, which forced me to slow down to 55 and sometimes come to a complete halt. But before this becomes a rant session, let me get to my point.

It would have been very easy to ignore the 55 mph signs because I did not see any cops nearby and the other cars were going at whatever speed they wished. Only my conscience and integrity kept me hovering right below 60 mph. And maybe my paranoia of getting pulled over. If I had not heeded the sign, there could be so many negative consequences, such as tickets (double fine, eek!), wrecks, deaths, etc. It is true that the probability of those things happening is slim, but it wasn’t worth the risk.

The sign was there for a reason.

Recently, a note in my Bible told a story about a (fictional) shark sign at a beach. People get frustrated when they go to the beach and see a sign that says they shouldn’t swim because of potential sharks in the water. They might be angry at the sign itself for being there, when in reality the sign is only a warning and protection from something more dangerous. If they swam in the waters anyway, it is true that they might not encounter sharks at all, but they could also very well come across sharks. The sharks could feel threatened and attack, maiming or killing the swimmers who were simply mad at the sign.

The sign was there for a reason.

Similarly, many non-Christ followers and some Christ followers will complain that the law and rules laid out in the Bible are too constricting in our modern world. This is not a new complaint. Paul dealt with the same thing with the Christians in Rome to whom Romans is addressed. Some complained about the law being unimportant since Christ came, but Paul argues that the law is useful to show him his sin. (Romans 7: 7-8).

In the previous two stories the signs showed me and the beach goers the potential evils in the respective situation: wrecks, tickets, or death, and sharks. The law, written in the Old Testament and lived by Christ in the New Testament, shows us the evil of sin. Paul points out that he would have never have known that coveting is wrong if the law did not show him. The law is there because sin came into existence with Adam and Eve. The law is there to protect us from the consequence of sin, which is eternal death and separation from God.

The problem with this is that sin is so powerful that it warped the image of the law in our minds. Humans for a long time have seen it as something that constricts us from doing what is fun and pleasurable. Humans also sometimes see the law as something that dooms us to death and separation from God if we can’t live the law to a T (Romans 7:13). As Paul points out, the problem is not with the law, which is perfect and protects us if we follow it. The problem is that we are sinful beings. Adam and Eve proved that. They had one restrictive law: don’t eat the fruit on that tree. But they did. Sin is powerful and it rules us if we let it.

Thankfully, we have the laws of the Old and New Testament as a form of protection from sin. What is even better than that is that we have Christ/Holy Spirit/God also as our greatest Protection from sin (Romans 7:24-25). With His power, we are able to resist the power of sin. Thank God!

So now our job is to heed the signs to avoid the messes we get ourselves into when we sin. We can rely on God’s power and strength in order to keep the laws.

The signs (laws) are there for a reason.