Lies About Sex and Porn: It’s Freedom

I have been thinking about this post for a while, but had trouble finding the right words to say what has been on my mind. It has been a process to write. It started out of a hunch and curiosity for where our world is. It’s a trend really, and it does not take long to find when you look at the headlines. “So and so has leaked sex tape. Turns misfortune into major profit.” Sex and porn. It’s just kind of everywhere isn’t it?

A look at Wikipedia will show you names of the most “famous” individuals who have had sex tapes out. This is a list of forty names. Wikipedia itself suggests the list of names is not exhaustive, and of that list of forty names there are many many videos to be applied to them. Sex sells, and leads to quick fame apparently.

Look at the list and you will find there are very few names you would actually recognize. Maybe a reality star or two, or a one hit wonder of some type. It is a common theme. It is a list filled with people who want their name known. They want to be recognized, and they have figured out how to do it in one of the quickest ways possible.

It’s gotten worse. The porn industry has crept into casual interaction with most of the world these days. There were two disturbing headlines within this past month that genuinely shocked me. One was a woman in the porn industry who was holding a Lego contest. She claimed that the person who could make her the coolest Lego creation to put in her house would win the prize of experiencing her personal services.

Another story form this month was about a woman in the porn industry who is about to turn 23, and to celebrate she was inviting 23 men to join her in a brand new video. Sex with 23 men. First come first serve.

The porn industry is reaching out to the average person. It has figured out the game. It knows it has its audience on the hook. It’s beyond viewing for satisfaction and has moved into participation. I look at all this, and begin to wonder how it ever really surprised me. This is the natural progression to it all because this is something that such a large part of our society worships.

They wouldn’t want you to see it that way of course. It is displayed as something that is natural. Do what feel right. Do what makes you happy. If it satisfies then it is acceptable. After all, it is the words oldest profession they say. A “profession” that is becoming a source of destruction to men and women. While the exact statistics are debated it is widely agreed that the Super Bowl is one of the biggest events for the sex trafficking industry. Women who have been forced into a life of prostitution.

Where am I going with this? What does sex trafficking have to do with the porn industry? What does it have to do with those celebrity sex tapes? What does it have to do with those headlines? Everything, it has to do with everything. We think that these celebrities and people who work I the porn industry are doing this out of complete freedom. Sex trafficking is heartbreaking because of its slavery nature, but those in the porn industry are just disgusting in our eyes. It is acceptable to view them as something less than human. Those who do not participate in the viewership of the content often treat those men and women in it the same way as the actual viewers do. We do this because we mistakenly believe they are doing this in freedom.

It’s not freedom. They are enslaved. They are enslaved to sin. They are so wrapped up in the lies of this world that they are stuck in their own sin. I’m not negating the element of free will. I understand that it is still a choice. Not every unbeliever does porn, but they are still a prisoner. That is part of what makes the indulgence of porn such an ugly affair. It is not just sinning. A life of porn addiction is a life of glorifying and worshipping someone else’s sin.

What does this mean? This is the first post on this topic where I am not just talking to those who are caught up in this struggle. This is a message for everyone. If you are caught up in this struggle then you need to understand it is not just about you. It is not just about your sin. You are indulging in the destructive sin of others. I’m not saying that this truth alone will get you to stop viewing it, but it is time for a perspective change.

It is also time for a perspective change for the average believer who is not caught up in this mess. We need to stop viewing those in the porn industry as a lost cause. We need to stop viewing them as the dirt unworthy of our attention, and start looking at them as sinner in needs of a savior. We pray a good deal for women enslaved in prostitution, and I think that is a wonderful thing. It is so incredible to see that issue receiving greater attention, but when will we start praying for those enslaved in the porn industry? Enslaved to their own sin.

I have to be honest. I haven’t been praying for them. I may have stopped myself from being a viewer, but my heart attitude has not changed in the right direction. The same view has been there, but with a different motivation. We are so afraid of getting wrapped up in the ugliness of porn and sex that we distance those who seem to willingly embrace it. We distance ourselves from them in every aspect of our lives including prayer. I’m glad I’m no longer someone who worships and glorifies the sin of others, but I want to be even something more now. I want to be an opportunity for hope. I want to be a guide towards real freedom.

Today is Going to be Legen – Wait For It

Dary! Legendary! That is what we look for in life isn’t it? We look for those epic moments that make for the grandest stories. We look for adventure and excitement.

I have a confession to make. I hate Winter. People often assume I am a lover of Winter because of my utter contempt for the Summer. This is not the case. I am a Fall/Spring kind of guy. Summer is far to hot and seems to last forever. Winter is far to cold with nasty weather that equally seems to last forever. I often find myself anxiously looking forward to whatever season comes after the one I am currently in.

This is not exclusive to natures seasons though. Many times we can have the feeling with seasons of life, or even just weeks of life. I am coming off the end of a much needed four day weekend. It has been delightful. I spent weeks anxiously looking forward to this weekend. Now I am reaching the end of it, and I find myself wanting to just look forward to the next big event.

I have contemplated on this trend, and I have not been altogether excited with what I have discovered. I seem to spend a far more significant amount of my time looking forward to something in the future rather than living in the present. That doesn’t seem like a life being lived to the fullest.

It is easy to see why we get into this habit. Just look at any of the narratives in Scripture, and it is filled with the exciting moments in the lives of characters. Moses escaping the clutches of pharaoh, returning to Egypt, getting a front row seat to God’s wonders. David slew Goliath, fought glorious battles, became a king, and brought the Ark back into Jerusalem. These were men who lived in excitement. Their stories appeared so event driven.

What happens when we read in between the lines though? Moses sent 40 years as a shepherd. 40 years of waiting and tending to sheep. 40 years of developing a heart of compassion and care for creatures that were in need of daily guidance. 40 years of learning how to lead. 40 years of growing in humility. 40 years of just waiting. What about David? He also spent time as a shepherd. He learned how to trust in God during those years as he fought of dangerous predators.

There can be importance in the ordinary. Sometimes we just become to busy looking towards the extraordinary to see it. We are looking for the legendary moments without realizing that embracing the moment itself can make it legendary. Here is where we get it wrong. It is not an event that makes a day legendary, but rather the very living of the day itself.

We serve a purpose in the quieter moments of life. Those moment where we prepare, train, and grow. They are legendary in their own right because they lead and prepare for those more iconic moments. Heroes of legend never started that way. It was the ordinary that lead them up to the extraordinary.

Can you embrace the moment? A moment that may appear so ordinary, but in it is surrounded by the very creation of God. A creation that is actively at work, and interacting throughout the whole expanse of the universe. A moment that may seem ordinary to your individual life at the moment, but in that same moment is literally being held together by the very hands of its creator. A moment that may seem so insignificant to you, but it being guided by that same creator with the potential for such a significant purpose that you would not even dare to dream of its possible outcomes.

Join me friend. Today is going to be Legen- wait for it…

Happy Anniversary

Five years ago today, my wife and I started dating. Life was a lot simpler back then. I was working on my bachelors degree to prepare for ministry. She was finishing her education degree. As our dating relationship developed we had slowly begun to develop a five year plan in our minds. We seemed to have things figured out pretty well. Everything made a good deal of sense. We were quite happy.

It’s been five years since then. Much has changed within those five years. Plans have been reevaluated. Directions have been shifted. Dreams have taken on different form. There has been laughter. There have been tears. There has been love. There has been pain. It’s been a struggle. During these last five years there are some things I have come to learn.

1. Life is hard. It just is. It’s something you think you understand until you realize it with firsthand experience. When people tell you life is hard they can’t place the emotions they have experienced from that statement onto you. You cannot understand what they mean by that phrase until you personally go through the emotional rollercoaster that this truth brings.

2. Life is wonderful, too. There is so much of it to live and experience. I have seen souls saved, my child born, and exciting new adventures taking place for me and my wife. Life is full of excitement. The excitement requires there to be the hardship, but it is worth it. It’s a powerful experience. I would take the hardship for the joy that I experience any day.

3. Ministry hurts. I once had someone tell me that they were prejudiced towards any pastor who did not also have a job in “the real world.” They didn’t know what they were talking about. Anyone in ministry sees and experiences just as much real world as anyone else. Even during my years of college ministry, I experienced the very real aspects of life. Ministry just hurts. It hurts seeing people you care for and help go through difficult circumstances and even major moments of crisis in their faith. It hurts seeing people you minister to lash out and try to cause pain towards you. It is a lonely experience at times.

4. Ministry is powerful. Powerful when put into God’s hands, that is. It is incredible to be a part of a process that God is orchestrating. Being a tool used to help others in the capacity that ministry allows is an absolutely incredible experience. It can be easy when you experience the negative of the ministry to be fooled into thinking it outweighs the good, but that is just not the case. I have experienced plenty of hurt in the last five years of ministry, but if I could go back to the beginning I would still have chosen ministry because God made some good happen from it, and He loved me enough to give me a front row seat in that process.

5. Not everyone will like you. There are just too many personalities with too many different philosophies for every single person to like you. That’s ok. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything against you. Sometimes it is on them if they are unable to set aside their petty differences with you. You don’t need to be loved by everyone. If you speak what you think then people will disagree with you sometimes.

6. Close friendships are worth keeping. Even distance has not kept me from some of my closest friendships. Many times they were the friendships that supported me and my family during times of difficult and strife. Having them has been crucial to our sanity at times.

7. Plans change. We didn’t expect to be back where we are now. We didn’t expect me to be going back to school so soon. There was a lot of guilt that went into much of our decision making because it wasn’t part of “The Plan.” We’ve learned more now that our plan is for whatever God leads us to do. Sometimes that means going down a path we did not originally anticipate.

8. God is the first priority. It sounds cliché, but it is true. Nothing else will match up right if this is not taken care of first. I have heard it said that God should be your only priority, and if that is accomplished then everything else will fall into place. I can understand where people are coming from when they say that. Seriously, don’t place your relationship with God in second place. It won’t get you anywhere.

9. Family comes first (after God). Even in college, ministry was a crazy balancing act. It was complicated to balance ministry and time with this girl that I was falling in love with. As we moved towards marriage I found myself asking some of my professors that I was closest with how to manage this balancing act. The answer was similar. They all said that it was a constant struggle, but if they could go back and do it over again they would have put the greater focus on their family every time. I always heard the horror stories of those in ministry who would be divorced just a few years in because family was never the priority. People won’t always like this. People will think your first duty is to ministry. People will have trouble with the fact that you put an emphasis on your own family at times rather than them. If you aren’t ministering to your own family, then you are doing something wrong. Understand that it will be a balancing act. Most of the time neither side will feel like they have enough of your attention. Be patient with yourself and realize that you will make mistakes on it.

10. Marriage is tough. As I said before, the balancing act is tough. Marriage is complicated, and when you throw parenting into the mix it becomes even more complicated. It requires constant time and attention. It requires pushing towards growth. You need to learn how to suddenly live your whole life with another person. It’s weird. It’s awkward. There will be times where nothing will seem to make any sense. Find comfort in knowing your spouse feels the same way sometimes.

11. Marriage is beastly wonderful. It is just fun. For as tough as it is it is just lots of fun. Parenting has somehow managed to make it even more fun. These relationships in my family are the ones I spend my most time cultivating because they are the ones that matter to me the most. It will require sacrifice at times. You will give up a lot for your family, but it has been worth it every step of the way. They are just worth it.

12. Love has played a role bigger than I ever would have imagined. I love my wife now more than I thought I could have five years ago. I love my son more than I could have imagined. I love those I minister to. I have learned to love those who cause me grief and heartache. I have learned to love the good and the bad. I have learned that love carries me through.

Five years ago today…. Happy anniversary, sweetheart. What an adventure it has been.

Christ Didn’t Look Past My Sin.

Have you ever heard yourself saying the following statement? “I know I probably shouldn’t say/do this, but…” I know I have caught myself saying similar phrases. I have noticed it more after closely listening to other people say it. It takes shape in all forms. “I’m sorry I am venting, but…” “I’m sorry I hurt you, but…” It’s a very peculiar concept isn’t it? It’s strange that we acknowledge a mistake we are about to make, and then go on to make it. As I have thought on it’s true purpose and motivation I can’t help, but hate the fact that I struggle with doing it.

We say thing like this to avoid confrontation. If we acknowledge our sin while we are doing it then we can somehow remove ourselves form being confronted while we do it. We hope that it means that people can just ignore our sin. In fact, we are basically saying that we realize we are a sinner so please accept that I am flawed and just come to terms with that fact. We avoid confrontation by acknowledge that what we are doing is wrong.

This doesn’t really let us off the hook. All it does is make us look all the more foolish. We proclaim that we are wrong, and then go off and continue to do it. That’s a little nuts isn’t it? No, It is more than a little nuts, it is insane. It’s dirty. We make sure that anyone who then attempts to confront us feels like they are tearing us down more than is necessary because, hey, I’ve already acknowledge my sin so thee is no reason to beat a dead horse. You’re holding me in my sin when what you should be doing is just providing me with forgiveness. We never actually get around to apologizing in order to provide forgiveness though. All we have done is acknowledged that what we are in the middle of doing is wrong.

It’s a symptom of a bigger problem. We believe our mistakes should simply be ignored. We believe they should be looked past. WE proclaim that we should look past the sin of others just as Christ looked past sin. He didn’t look past sin though. He stared at it straight in the face. Christ coming to the earth had everything to do with paying attention to sin. If Christ ignored and looked past sin then there would have been no Jesus in the form of man. There would have ben no crucifixion. There would have been no resurrection. There would have been no salvation. We would all still be heading for hell.

Sin is to serious of an issue to just look past. It’s not something that can just be ignored. Simply acknowledge a mistake we are about to make doesn’t give us a free pass. Sin is sin. Sin requires us to seek out forgiveness by repenting form it rather than simply acknowledging it. There is a real difference there.

None of this can happen though unless we get this idea out of our heads that Jesus was all about looking past sin. We think this because he spent so much time with sinners, and kept talking down to those religious people. It’s funny though, the religious people were sinners to. Jesus had no problem confronting them in their sin. He didn’t seems to be to keen on looking past the sin of those religious people. We like the concept of Jesus looking past sin when it seems convenient for us. We hide behind a Jesus who we claim looked past peoples sin and rebuked those who did not do the same. We immediately place ourselves in a double standard.

Even the non religious sinner that Jesus spent so much time with was not someone whose sin he looked past. Why do you think he spent so much time with them? He wanted to show them that there was a better life. A life full of purpose. A life that could not be weighed down by the control of sin.

I’m…. I’m thankful Christ didn’t look past my sin. It hurts when I need to face the consequences of it. It’s embarrassing when I need to face the confrontation, but I’m better for it. I write this post more for myself then anyone else. If I am so grateful that Christ chose not to look past my sin, then why would I so actively avoid being confronted of sin that I acknowledge while I do it? Why do I attempt people to tolerate a poor attitude or cruel thought by already acknowledging it is probably wrong. I feel entitled to be able to act “human” sometimes. “Human” is a substitute for “sinner” in those moment. Can’t I just let my guard down for a little while? Can’t people just accept me for what I am? As I look back on those moments I feel a good deal of regret form those moments. I don’t want people to have to accept me at my worse. I want to have people challenge me to be better. I don’t want people to simply look past my flaws. I certainly want patience form them as I grow, but more importantly I want them to journey with me to changing into a better person. I want them to acknowledge my sin. I want them to do that because my savior acknowledged it on the cross. Thank God my savior did not look past my sin.

The Church

Ever notice all the bad press we give the church? Blog posts constantly talk about what is wrong with the church. Seminary students sit around and talk about everything that is wrong with he church and develop their plans on how it needs to be fixed. People stop participating in the church because they say it doesn’t work. It almost feels like you cannot be considered a thought provoking Christian these days unless you are willing to talk about everything that the church is doing wrong. We need a perspective change. This fad is going down a dangerous road.

Let’s start with the root of these discussion. We say the things we do about the church because of personal experiences with local churches. We take the negative elements of those experiences and paint a universal canvas of the churches common problems. “The problem with the church is that it is not evangelizing enough.” “The church needs to do better at meetings the needs of the poor.” “The church needs to be relevant.” “The church needs to show love more.” All of these statements are based out of local experiences form local churches. There are certainly local churches that suffer form some of these issues, but is it fair to say that it is a problem of the universal church. Is it fair to say that the church is no longer effective?

Here is where things get particularly complicated. It’s Christ’s church. So we end up laying claim that a creation of Christ is no longer effective. That makes things a little awkward. We sit around and talk about how we need to fix God’s church. We discuss what needs to be done to fix what we interpret Christ’s church to be. It ends up making things exclusive. We end up caring more about making things look the way things they are supposed to rather than helping people move along in their personal journey. We want the destination, but rebuke the progress that it takes to get there.

I love the church. I love the real church. It is more than a love for a local church. The church is so much more than that. The church is a family. It is the body of Christ with Him as the head. He is the one who takes the lead. The problems is we have arms, legs, feet, hands, and all other parts of the body deciding that they don’t like how an individual piece of it is going. The hand grows disenchanted by an itch on the leg and proclaims that the whole body is suffering from a terminal disease.

The church is going to have issues. It is going to have moments that make us disenchanted to it. Many of us feel our most pain and sorrow out of people within a local church body. It hurts the most because it is supposed to do the most good. When it doesn’t it becomes a bitter situation. It leaves us hating the whole thing.

What if we developed another perspective though? What if we looked at the bigger picture. The reason for the messy parts of the church is because it is made up of broken pieces. That leg doesn’t seem particularly effective by itself. It makes poor decisions and tends to go places it has no business going, but with the proper body lead by the proper head it manages to be effective. It finds its one true place where it belongs. That is why the church itself is a living miracle. It takes individuals that are broken and hurting, and brings them together under the leadership of Christ to perform something with significant purpose.

Of course the church is going to be messy because it is made up of messy people. That is part of what makes it so incredible. The church is filled with those who are a work in progress. It is filled with those who are all going on a journey. The beauty of the church is that we happen to get to have the opportunity to go on that journey together. I love the church because I love the one who made it.

I’ve learned to be cautious with statements where I claim what I believe is wrong with the church. The reason is simple. I am part of the church. If something is wrong with the church then I am saying that something is wrong with me. If I see a problem then I need to actively be part of the solution. It is not a solution brought based off of what I think the church is supposed to look like. It is a solution based out of personal sanctification for how Christ proclaims to me how I am supposed to be.

Don’t just give up on the church because a local church burned you. Don’t just hate the church because of one experience. We are a work in progress, but are work is being done by the one who can actually do something about it. I urge you not to highjack that control of perfection, but rather welcome you to be an active part of the process.