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Monday, August 27, 2012

A message about Porn (no longer just a problem for men...but, yeah, still a problem for men)

Below I've posted a concise and helpful sermon by P.J. Smyth (lead pastor of Godfirst church in Johannesburg, South Africa) about the Porn epidemic that is still running wild amongst Christians - and not just amongst men by the way. A couple summers ago I was speaking with a man who started and runs one of the largest Christian-based rehab centers for addicts of various kinds. He said the most surprising trend that no one knows about is that the majority of addicts amongst 18-22 y. olds are women and not men. I was floored by this revelation. Smyth addresses, in part, why this is the case.

Here are some of the quotes from the message that impacted me:
  • "Every second, $3000 are spent on porn."
  • "Porn is like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by listening to someone grunt a few bars."
  • "Porn girls never say 'No.' So that imagery ruins proper relationships."
  • "To Adam, Eve was perfect. She was his standard of beauty. Porn cuts that."
  • "Sex in marriage is so important that the devil does everything to get us into bed before we are married and keep us out of bed when we are."
  • "About 60% of the power of sin dissipates the moment you confess it to someone else."
  • "The gospel and marriage teach us that I am way worse than I thought and way more loved than I thought."
  • "Be a Churchill, not a Chamberlin."
  • "Spending time in God's presence is one of the most underrated ways to deal with sin."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Reading & Pics

Hi friends. It's good to be back on Grand Cayman (a.k.a. "The Rock"). Katie, the boys, and I enjoyed our time on leave immensely. So good, even while there were some adventures -- see near death in lightning storm, the leg infection from a dirty/overpopulated river, and a chigger bite infestation all of which were superfluously (and, frankly, needlessly) covered in my first sermon back. The four weeks away were capped off wonderfully by time away at a Bed and Breakfast with my bride as her sister watched the chillins'. I am just so grateful for my closest friend in life and ministry!

Did a lot of livin', lovin', and readin' during the trip -- so a brief summary of each below (the "lovin'" is subjective and open to interpretation). First pictures, then Books.

Summer Pics.

Kiawah Island. A home away from home &
site of the 2012 PGA Golf Championship
(won on Sunday by Rory McIlroy )
Beach Olympics. Gage & his cousin Andy go 3-legged against
Mason and his younger cousin Lincoln, who've lost their 'rope'
(notice: it is really a bungee cord my father found in his garage).

Fourth of July Parade. With electricity in Cayman costing
way too much for Christmas decor, Fourth of July afford
us our next best chance to be tacky and gaudy.
One of FOUR trees that fell in my sister and I's path during a lighting storm. Really, Lord?! Four?!

July 15. 2:04:05 pm 

July 15. 2:04:10 pm
("5 typical seconds in the ever-changing life of my youngest son")
Flexing before Ziplining
(Mason, cousins Marlow and Moriah) 

Father-Son Trip to D.C.
(at Nat'l Zoo - see Panda in background)

Father-son Baseball Trip
How gangsta is this pic?! Cousin Eliot looking cool,
Mason flashing gang signs, Cousin Jemma with the hardcore spit.
Summer Reading.

My favorite book of the Summer was Dianne Severance's Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History. And if that makes you feel awkward, imagine the many looks and comments I received/endured from family and friends as I sported this book whose cover features an image tantamount to an Audrey Heburn silhouette on the beach, hammock, etc. Hint: They were not favorable toward my masculinity. But it was well worth it. I love history. But let's face it: Most history from 0-1950 A.D., both history in general or church history, is very masculine in its focus. And I'm not going to comment on whether that's a travesty or conspiracy nor argue that we need to rewrite all of history. However, I felt it was worthwhile for Katie and I (and those to whom I minister) to potentially benefit from the many lives of women who contributed to the spread of the gospel to the four corners of the earth, in their neighborhoods, and, most importantly, in their own households. It was awesome. In fact, I've ordered some copies and will be putting them on sale in our church lobby. Dianne Severance does an excellent job of combining historical accuracy with readability. I found the first 50-75 pages a bit dry, but after that I found it to be an absolute page-turner. 

Mason and I did the Narnia thing this Summer - specifically Prince Caspian (the fourth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series...and the most natural sequel to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe). This was the first time I can recall Mason saying, during a break, "Dad, I really like this story. I can't wait to pick it up again." Here are a couple of my favorite moments.

At the end of feasting led by the god Bacchus but in the presence of Aslan, Lucy notes to Susan at the close of one chapter, "I should be afraid of Bacchus, if Aslan wasn't here." It's a profound statement really. Bacchus is the Roman god of making merry (ie. partying). Yet he makes his way into a Christian children's book. How? Because Aslan is present. Partying for its own sake or for the sake of self-indulgence is a fearful thing to these girls because even they know at their young age that it causes self-destruction, causes one to become less human. But merriment/party-making is itself relished by God when done for Him, through Him, and by Him. Thus, in Aslan's presence, the joy and merriment is pure and allows one to be more free to take pleasure in it.

A second moment is when Lucy reacquaints herself with the great lion, Aslan (who represents Jesus in the story), having not visibly seen him in some time:

"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?" 
"I am not, but every year you grow, you will find me bigger."

A third Book I had opportunity to read was Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It was the fascinating life story of an wunderkind Olympic runner who becomes a WWII bombadeer. Louis Zamperini's plane and crew crash over the Pacific. His story of survival that ensues is really quite inspiring. 

Finally, I was blessed to read Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God by an 'up-and-coming' young pastor named David Platt. His church's story of sacrifice from a place of comfort is quite encouraging and challenging. His chapter pinpointing the need sacrifice comfort to reach unreached people groups specifically is compelling.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

10 Quick Questions to Ask when Reading the Bible

We've just begun a new mini-series on Sundays called: How the Bible was Built. This week was an Introduction I tabbed: "What the Bible can do to People." 

In it I gave a very cursory and simple idea for helping us do a little interpretive and application work when reading the Bible. Ask yourself these 10 questions when reading a particular passage (A few folks asked if I'd supply these later as I breezed through them fairly briskly):

  • Is there a command [in this passage] to be obeyed?
  • Is there a promise to be believed?
  • Is there a truth about God to be trusted?
  • Is there a character trait of God's to be praised?
  • Is there a prayer to be prayed?
  • Is there a conviction of sin to be confessed?
  • Is there an example of sin/temptation to avoid?
  • Is there an example of godly living to be emulated?
  • Is there an idol that needs to be removed?
  • Is there a need present that can only be met in Christ? 

I hope this might be helpful as you seek to see God's Word become His Words to you and for everyday living.