Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Spirit-Guided Sexuality

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
According to the Bible there are two ways we can live our lives. We can live our lives guided by the flesh or we can be guided by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). The apostle Paul made it clear that if our flesh is in control then sexual immorality will be a part of our lives. On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit is our guide, we will keep sex scared.

When the Bible talks about flesh, it is not just talking about our physical desires, but also the corrupted world system that we are under. This is why sex seems to be everywhere, and this constant exposure to sex causes us to forget God’s intended place for sex in our lives. Sex, the way God designed it, is a wonderful blessing. When sex is brought outside of God’s design it becomes a source of complication and pain.

Followers of Jesus need to remember what the writer of Hebrews wrote: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4; ESV). If we are going to hold marriage in honor then we need to reorder our thoughts and desires. This requires that we break from the accepted cultural standards of sex and return to God’s standards. In other words we can no longer allow our flesh to guide our sexuality.

Our flesh firmly roots our lives into the things of this world. It causes us to crave things that are sensual, things that can be experienced by the five senses, and things that are selfish. Since the flesh is selfish, it will distort the cravings we have for the good things God has given, so we will develop an unhealthy desire for them. I think sex and food are two blessings God has given that our flesh selfishly consumes, with negative effects to our bodies and souls.

The problem for you and me, even though we follow Jesus, is that we live in a world that has gone wrong, and we are faced with the reality of people being lead by their flesh in pursuit of sex. Living in this reality, it is easy to get caught up in the flow of culture. Things as innocent as love songs, chick flicks, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue to culturally accepted things like 50 Shades of Grey, steamy movies, homosexuality, and pornography to disturbing things like child pornography, bestiality, and sadism declare the terrible truth that the sexuality of our culture has gone terribly wrong. When left unchecked our flesh will take us to places we never intended to go. This is why we can’t allow the flesh to lead any part of our lives, including our sexuality.

How do we break free from being led by the flesh?

The simple answer is that we allow the Spirit to guide our lives. The apostle Paul wrote; But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Galatians 5:16, 17; ESV). Paul is clear that if we don’t want to gratify the cravings of our flesh, then we need to let the Spirit guide our lives.

It is easy to say, “We need to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives,” but it is another thing to actually do it. Especially when you are unsure of what it takes to let the Spirit guide your life.

See more at: Spirit-Guided Sexuality http://www.paulsponderings.com/spirit-guided-sexuality/#sthash.2k3YSpQq.dpuf


Monday, November 03, 2014

Created to Reflect God's Character

Each one of us has something about our lives that we would like to change. We would like to lose a few pounds, have a different job, make more money, have a different hair color, or have a better relationship. From the serious to the superficial, no one is entirely happy with the person they have become.

God uses this craving for change to remind us that we were created to live a different type of life. No matter how great our lives are right now, God created us for more.

Genesis 1 tells us that we were created in the image of God. To be created in the image of God primarily means that we were created to reflect God’s character into this world. Just like a statue or a painting of George Washington gives us an idea what the first president looked like, the way we live our lives is to reflect the love, generosity, compassion, creativity, and grace of God.

Sadly, sin makes it impossible for us to live in a way that allows us to accurately reflect God’s character. This is the reason why, even in the midst of great success and contentment, we fell like we are not living up to our potential. The simple reality is that it has become impossible for us to fully live the type of life that God created us to live.

What are we to do? - See more at Paul's Ponderings: Created to Reflect God's Character

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Correct Context of Pleasure

“This is the great lost truth of the Christian faith, that correction of Judaism made by Jesus and passed on to us: the goal of morality is not morality—it is ecstasy. You are intended for pleasure!” ~ John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire

One of the great lies that people have believed from the beginning is that true pleasure is found outside the boundaries of morality. Too often we believe that pleasure is found by breaking the rules and living for the moment.

The morality God has given us in the Bible and in our conscience, seems to stand in the way of our having a good time. The party mentality isn’t just something new invented by students on college campuses, but it had gone back thousands of years. So many people have given their lives away to the party in an attempt to live the “good life”.

Too many people in our culture morality is seen as God’s attempt to keep us from having a good time. Morality tells us not to get drunk or high. Morality tells us that sex should be between a man and a woman, and then only within the bounds of marriage. Morality says to be a servant to other people, even though it will mean the sacrifice of both your time and money. Morality seems dull compared to the party.

How we can experience pleasure by doing the right thing?

Ravi Zacharias talks about this issue in his book Cries of the Heart. He wrote; “For true pleasure the price is paid before it is enjoyed. For false pleasure the price is paid after it is enjoyed” (p. 142).

There is no doubt that illicit sex and pornography bring pleasure to people. After all if there was no pleasure then people wouldn’t participate in them. The high of drugs, which include alcohol, gives people pleasure, which is one reason people continue to use them even in the face of negative consequences. These are temporary pleasures that end up enslaving us. God created us to experience pleasures to add joy to our lives, not to enslave us. (Tweet this)

See more at Paul's Ponderings: The Correct Context of Pleasure


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Sunday, March 16, 2014

It Begins with Jesus

Very few people are completely satisfied with who they are. I think many people would like to make at least minor changes to their lives. When we consider our lives it is easy to find flaws that we would like fixed.

This is why we make New Years Resolutions because it means that we can start with a clean slate. We hope we can whip ourselves into shape so we can be happier with the person we have become. Yet, it seems, the older we get the more cynical we become with trying to change our lives.

We have tried many times before only be be met with failure time after time. Reality hits us right in the face. Our strength, self-discipline, and wisdom all fail us. Rather than becoming new people we discover the old person gains a stronger hold on us.

I want to encourage you. We can be transformed. It is very possible for you and I to become different people. We can become the people God created us to be. In other words we can experience life the way it was meant to be lived.

Erwin McManus wrote:
Transformation is both the miracle of God and the stewardship of man. Godliness is a result of divine activity and human action. God promises to do what we cannot do ourselves, and He commands us to do that which He will not do for us. There is both miracle and responsibility. 
Stand Against the Wind, p. 46

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

God Uses the Bad

Spiritual formation is not a pleasant walk in the park. Maturity of faith and being conformed to the image of Jesus is difficult. It doesn’t magically happen and it isn’t the result of faithful church attendance. 

 Spiritual formation is the result of surrender and discipline. We daily surrender our lives to Jesus and we discipline our lives through study, prayer, fasting, service, community, and worship. Through surrender and discipline we find ourselves on the path of spiritual formation.

Once we are on the path of spiritual formation we discover that numerous obstacles begin to block our way. This makes sense since Satan is opposed to God’s restoration project, and so he will do everything in his power to derail it. That means he will come after you and me.

Satan will throw out the net of fear to keep us from obeying Christ’s call on our lives. Satan will sit the trap of temptation to catch us in sin so we are not free to follow Jesus. Satan will dig the hole of guilt so we will fall in and be overwhelmed with shame rather than living in the grace and forgiveness God has promised in Christ Jesus.

If this is your experience I have good news for you! God uses Satan’s obstacles as opportunities to make us better people! Just as Joseph told his brothers; “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil” (Genesis 50:20; NLT), we can be certain that God will redeem the bad in our lives to bring about good. God is so powerful that He can turn evil into good!

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Monday, February 17, 2014

God's Promise of Life

{Isaiah 1:18-20; ESV}
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

One of the wonderful promises God has made to us is that He will remove our sin and make us new. Let me put it another way: God will redeem our lives!

God will take all the junk, the sin, the pain, and the tragedies and exchange them for eternal life. This promise speaks to the heart of many people because we want our lives to have weight to them.  We want our lives to matter!

At this moment many of us feel like our lives are being wasted. The consequences of sin hold us in bondage and the addictive nature of sin has turned us into people we don’t want to be. Our hearts come alive when we discover that God promises to change this reality.

There is another side to this coin. God has promised to help us, to re-create us, and to take away our sins, but He also expects us to accept the help and redemption that He offers. The key to receiving God’s help is faith. Faith is not just about having a belief in God, but it is trusting God. I like to say that belief + action = faith.

See more at Paul's Ponderings: Experiencing God's Promise of Life 


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Desire to Produce

Woven within the masculine spirit is the desire to produce. Men need to be productive in order to give their lives meaning and purpose. This is why some men spend time creating through writing, carving, or inventing. It is why other men spend time building things like tables, hot rods, or houses. This is why some men spend time growing gardens, raising animals, or planting trees. It is why other men spend time restoring old houses, antique furniture, or rusty cars.

Men need projects that are both fulfilling and rewarding. It is essential for men to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

We live in a culture where many jobs no longer offer men the opportunity to produce. There are numbers to be crunched and PowerPoint presentations to be put together, but real productive work is missing. This reality eats away at the spirit of a man. Men require productivity.

See more at Paul's Ponderings : Masculine Craving - The Need to Produce 


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