I’m preparing a message for the near future on depression because, it seems, I’m encountering it with people in the church, in relationships, movies, books, and in my own life more often than ever.

In light of that, I was blessed by a recent post by my friend, Ron Klave on his blog Bible Resolute.

Ron is the author of “Liar! Liar! Lies Told by Imperfect People, Used by a Perfect God” (CrossLink Publishing). He is an Air Force veteran, a former Police Officer and Private Investigator and works full-time for Select Energy Services. Ron has served as ministry leader, speaker and Bible teacher for churches in Iowa and Colorado.

Here’s an excerpt from his blog:

Below are several Scripture verses that may help you during your time of depression and anxiety.
–Read them, aloud if you can.
–Pray through them, aloud if you can.
–Meditate on them throughout the day.

You don’t have to go through them all at once, so just pick a few at a time each day…You are loved, valuable and precious in the sight of God. You are worth His sacrifice upon the cross and you are worth every drop of His blood that was shed for you. You are not alone. Accept His precious gift of grace.

He then shares over 40 Scriptures that speak to the issues of depression and anxiety. I found these very helpful and a great introduction into what I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.

Click Here to Read Those Scriptures on Bible Resolute

 

devoted cover

My book Devoted was released by Navpress and Tyndale Publishing House in September and it’s been exciting to see God already using this simple book to begin to raise up a generation of Christians who love Jesus more. Stories are coming in from around the country from Devotees who are falling more in love with Jesus.

I love this note I got from a girl named Amber:

“I have to say I am more in love now with Jesus than I have ever been. My heart is more full if joy than ever, and I’m so excited to continue to grow! :)” –Amber

And this note I received from Dave Stone, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky:

“Arron Chambers has done it again.  His writings always teach me truth, hold my attention and challenge me to become more intentional about my relationship with Jesus Christ.    Arron Chambers loves Jesus and Arron helps me to know and love Jesus more.” –Dave Stone, pastor, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY

And this note from Dr. Leonard Sweet:

“In a world of 1-calorie Christianity and diet discipleship, Arron Chambers issues a clarion call for ‘devotees,’ disciples utterly devoted to Jesus. Without this dazzling gem of a book, I never would have properly understood my vocation as devotion.Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor (Drew University, George Fox University), and chief contributor to sermons.com

And this note from my 11-year-old daughter:

“Please buy my Dad’s book. I really want him to be able to pay for my college tuition in the future.”–Payton Chambers

Being a disciple of Jesus is an issue of devotion rather than duty. Before Peter began–arguably the most important act of discipleship—Jesus didn’t ask him, “How many chapters of the Torah did you read today?” or “Are you attending services at the synagogue each week?” or “Did you give your tithe today?” No, before Peter began his journey of discipleship, Jesus asked him, “Do you love Me?”

I think that we are asking new disciples of Christ the wrong questions and that it’s time to start truly following the example of Christ by asking of disciples what Christ asked of Peter: devotion, not duty. In Devoted, I present a new paradigm for discipleship: falling in love with Jesus. This approach to discipleship emphasizes passion for Jesus as opposed to a plan for following Jesus.

Which is why I’m so excited to be able to finally share the 40-Day Devoted Church-Wide Experience with you!

The 40-Day Devoted Church-Wide Experience is a FREE resource I’m providing on my website: www.DevotedDiscipleship.com.  On http://www.DevotedDiscipleship.com you’ll find sermons for each week of the 40-Day Church-Wide Experience, small group studies for each week, video introductions for each sermon, video introductions for each small group study, personal videos for each day of the 40-Day Devoted Experience in the back of my book, and much, much, more.

And it’s all FREE!

My book and this 40-Day Devoted Church-Wide Experience are designed to help new believers–and mature believers–fall more in love with Jesus by introducing them to what it means to be in a loving relationship with Jesus.

Devoted is also written to serve as a sort of theological primer—leading you through some key theological issues.

Introduction: Just Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . God

1 .  Waiting: True Love Waits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meditation

2 .  Trusting: Of Dependency and Dynamite . . . . . . . . . . . The Holy Spirit

3 .  Seeing: Love at First Sight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jesus

4 .  Speaking: The Right to Not Remain Silent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gospel

5 .  Learning: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” . . . . . . . . . Doctrine

6 .  Sharing: On Pound-Cake-Filled Purses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Community

7 .  Remembering: The Descanso at Mile Marker 38 . . . . .Lord’s Supper

8 .  Praying: I Pledge Allegiance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prayer

9 .  Believing: Leap! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faith

10 .  Sacrificing: “Or, Buy Myself a Car!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Stewardship

11 .  Enjoying: Waist-Deep in Unexpected Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joy

12 .  Praising: 6 Nickels and 3 Dimes’ Worth of Worship . . . . . . Worship

13 .  Growing: The Magic Pill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Spiritual Growth

The FREE 40-Day Devoted Church-Wide Experience is an excellent resource for anyone interested in raising up a generation of believers who are more devoted to Jesus.

I hope you’ll help me spread the word about this free resource.

For more information, click here: The FREE 40-Day Devoted Church-Wide Experience

Dad’s Whistle

October 21, 2014 — 3 Comments

whistle

Recently I heard a Dad whistle for his kids and it brought back memories of my childhood and thoughts on God.

Good memories.

Now, I know that whistling for your kids may not be done very often these days but for my Dad–who grew up on a farm–it was an effective way of “communication.”

My Dad used his whistle to connect with us and communicate with us. If he wanted us he would whistle and we’d come running. Often, I would run up to him, out of breath, only to find out he hadn’t whistled, which he found to be quite endearing.

As I reflect, there were several significant things about Dad’s whistle:

  1. Dad’s whistle was always loud and strong and always for an important reason.
  2. If we couldn’t hear Dad’s whistle we were too far from home.
  3. When we heard that whistle we better come home quickly.
  4. If we chose to ignore the signal there would be consequences to our actions.

God doesn’t want us to be devoured by sin, so He will “whistle” for us through His word, His Holy Spirit, other Saints, and a myriad of other ways.

As I reflect, there are several significant things about God’s “whistles”:

  1. God’s warnings are always loud and strong and always for an important reason.
  2. If we don’t sense God’s presence in our lives then maybe we’re too far from home.
  3. If we think God is calling then we better come home quickly.
  4. If we choose to ignore God’s warning there would be consequences to our actions.

And, if we run into His presence, out of breath, only to find out He hadn’t whistled, I bet He finds that to be quite endearing, too.

©2014 Arron Chambers

I recorded this video this morning as my tribute to my friend, Delmar Schroeder on the day of his funeral.

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In a little over a week (9/1/14) my latest book Devoted will be available for purchase at your favorite online retailer and in bookstores all over the country. I believe in Devoted and I want it to be a Best-Seller, so I need your help.

Why do I want it to be a Best-Seller? Good question! I wrote this book to raise up a generation of Christians who view discipleship as a relationship to be experienced as opposed to a plan to be followed…and the best way for that to happen is for a bunch of Christians to read it. Understand? :)

I can’t wait for you to read this book.

What would happen if we just fell more in love with Jesus?

Before Peter began the most important act of his life—discipleship—Jesus didn’t ask him, “How many chapters of the Torah did you read today?” or “Are you attending services at the synagogue each week?” or “Did you give your tithe today?” No, before Peter began his journey of discipleship, Jesus asked him, “Do you love Me?” Arron thinks that we are asking new disciples of Christ the wrong questions and that it’s time to start truly following the example of Christ by asking of disciples what Christ asked of Peter: devotion, not duty.

In Devoted, I present a new paradigm for discipleship: falling in love with Jesus. This approach to discipleship emphasizes passion for Jesus as opposed to a plan for following Jesus.

On the Devoted book website you can watch a short video that explains Devoted discipleship a little more. Devoted Discipleship

Devoted has received some fantastic endorsements from some well-known and respected Christian leaders. Here are a few:

What I love most about Arron Chambers is his raw transparency and honesty about what it means to follow Jesus. That’s why Devoted isn’t a step-by-step plan to discipleship, but a devotee’s journal of the journey to loving Jesus. Devoted is a great starting place for any new (or growing) Jesus follower.–Geoff Surratt, Pastor, author of Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing

Arron Chambers has done it again.  His writings always teach me truth, hold my attention and challenge me to become more intentional about my relationship with Jesus Christ.    Arron Chambers loves Jesus and Arron helps me to know and love Jesus more.–Dave Stone, pastor, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY

What a romp! I have rarely enjoyed reading a book as much as I did this one. It was filled with great stories, joyous delight and powerful meaning. Mary Poppins was right, A little bit of sugar does make the medicine go down. And what is that medicine? Become a fully devoted follower of Jesus. –Bill Hull , Author of The Disciple Making Pastor, The Disciple Making Church, Christlike and the Complete Book of Discipleship.

The mantra of the Christian life is often articulated more like, ‘Do More, Be Better, Work Harder’ than it is, ‘Be Still, Listen, and Follow.’ In a world where the faith Jesus invites us into is often twisted into a works- and guilt-driven religion, Devoted guides us back toward finding rest in the ways of Jesus.–Chuck Bomar, pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, OR, and author of Losing Your Religion and Better Off Without Jesus

Arron’s engaging, easy-going style and biblical viewpoint in Devoted show me that loving Jesus is not about checking off a religious to-do list. It begins with exploring the depth of His love for me. Devoted is a practical, down-to-earth unveiling of the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel.—Ron Block, banjoist/guitarist/songwriter/vocalist with Alison Krauss and Union Station

In a world of 1-calorie Christianity and diet discipleship, Arron Chambers issues a clarion call for “devotees,” disciples utterly devoted to Jesus. Without this dazzling gem of a book, I never would have properly understood my vocation as devotion.–Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor (Drew University, George Fox University), and chief contributor to sermons.com

Devoted by Arron Chambers: This is one of those reads that I am so thankful for. In July my friend Arron Chambers handed me the first pre-release copy of this book and asked if I would give it a read. I could not wait to dive into this. The major premise of this book is that we as Christ followers are called to be radically devoted to Jesus. This is a book that every church leader should put into the hands of every new Christ follower. This is a book that reminds us that our call is to be FULLY DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST! Devoted comes out on September 1st and I recommend that each of you pick it up and radically change your life.–Trevor DeVage—Lead Pastor Mason Christian Church

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What will happen in your life if you fall more in love with Jesus?

What will happen in your church if everyone in your church fell more in love with Jesus?

What will happen if we raise up a generation of Devotees who love Jesus more?

I can’t wait to find out!

Will you join me in getting Devoted to as many people as possible? If so, here’s what I need for you to do:

1) Pre-order copies of Devoted for yourself and for your church from your favorite online retailer and Christian bookstore. I put a link on my pre-order page for Amazon, but it actually helps me most if you don’t pre-order books from Amazon. I’ll explain that a little more in #7 below. Pre-order Devoted Here 

For a book to gain traction in the marketplace it’s important for it to sell well in the first few weeks–especially the 1st week!

2) Contact your local Christian bookstore and ask them to carry Devoted in their store.

3) As soon as you buy or download your copy of Devoted during the week of 9/1-9/8, I need you to write a short review on Amazon or another e-tailer site. 

Your help with this is so appreciated because Amazon has certain algorithms that kick in after a book gets more than 25 reviews. I need Devoted to get as many reviews as possible in the first month.

4) Help spread the word about Devoted on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…or on any of your existing platforms, especially during the week of September 1st.

5) I need your ideas! Share ideas and brainstorm additional ways we might further expose the message to an even greater audience. You can send your ideas to arron@arronchambers.com.

6) Join my launch team! I’m looking for 25 people who will help me launch Devoted over the next 30 days. You can apply (Just tell me why you should be on the team) by emailing me at arron@arronchambers.com.  In return for your assistance you’ll receive the following perks:

-A free personalized copy of Eats with Sinners and Remember Who You Are

-Access to me—and the other team members—via a private Facebook group.

-A free half-hour teleseminar with me during launch week.

-I will publicly thank you on my blog.

-And, anything else I think of in the next few weeks to thank you for your help in making Devoted a best-seller!

7) You can help make Devoted a Best-Seller by not just Pre-Ordering it from your favorite online retailer and bookstore, but by also purchasing it during the week of 9/1-9/8 (i.e. “Launch Week”).

This is a strategy I learned from Christian Best-Selling author, Michael Hyatt. The reason is that I want to register as many sales as possible during this period of time in an attempt to get the book on the New York Times best sellers list.

You are the key. And I need your help.

The bestseller lists measure sales for a seven-day period. The book that sells the most through the channels and stores they poll, takes the number one slot. The book that sells the second most, takes the second slot, and so on. Each week, the list resets, starting from zero.

What this means is that selling ten thousand copies in one week is very different than selling the same amount over two weeks. Assuming you sell five thousand copies in each of the first two weeks, you have essentially cut your chances of hitting the bestseller list in half.

Pre-ordering on Amazon doesn’t help me that much because Amazon only releases the books when they have them to ship, which may or may not be launch week and I need to sell as many books as possible in the first week (9/1-9/8).

——

Also…We’re also producing a 5-Week Church-wide event to go along with the Devoted 40-Day Experience in the back of the book. This 5-Week Church-Wide event will include sermons, small group study, videos, and other resources your church can use to maximize the impact of Devoted. And…wait for it…wait for it…it will all be available for download on 10/1 from http://www.devotedbook.com for FREE!

 

 

Tammy Davis is one of our Children’s Ministers. Recently, she spoke at Journey on the issue of Jesus and the Sex Industry. I asked her to share her message here because it is powerful, important, and it needs to be shared.

#JESUS& the Sex Industry

-Tammy Davis, Journey Christian Church

 The-sex-industry-001

Matthew 10:16 says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”

Many times Christians have it backwards-we are as wise as doves and as innocent as serpents.  But we can’t hide in ignorance and hope to live lives that matter and change the culture around us.

So, I get to talk about Jesus and the Sex Industry.  I believe this is important because I know that the thief has come to steal, kill and destroy. Satan has taken something that God created as good and holy and pure and has stripped it of its value and distorted it in such a way that it is unrecognizable from what God intended. Quite frankly, that ticks me off. And he is presenting this distortion to us the way he presented the fruit to Eve in the garden, saying, “it’s good, what’s the harm? You will be enlightened”. And the disturbing part is, it’s not just the world that is biting, it’s also the church.

What is the Sex Industry?

Sex industry- any commercial enterprise offering or producing adult entertainment; also, a euphemism for prostitution or pornography (dictionary.com)

For the purposes of today:

Broadened definition- any entity or individual that gains money, power, or influence through the use of human sexuality.

First I want to share some ways the Sex Industry shows up in our world today. This was really hard to break down because the more I have studied and thought about the Sex Industry as a whole, the more I have come to realize how interwoven everything is. I really can’t separate the sex tourism in Cambodia from the way the American culture is immersed in the sex industry. In my opinion, it’s like this huge interconnected web of all these things that fall away from God’s design. I believe that what happens in the so-called privacy of our own homes affects not just our families, but also our neighbors, our churches and the world.

THE SEX INDUSTRY IN OUR WORLD shows up in many ways:

1) Sex Trafficking: Defined as- Commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion or commercial sex acts in which the individual induced to perform commercial sex act has not attained 18 yrs of age.

About 80% of Human trafficking victims end up in the sex trade.

The commercial sex trade exploits about 1 million children every year.

Sex Trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry.

It reaches from the brothels in Cambodia and Thailand, to the Strip Club in Chicago, to the massage parlor in San Francisco, to the home computer in Greeley. Most vulnerable to being victims are the poor, the uneducated and the oppressed.

This is why Journey supports the ministry of Rapha House- an organization that exists to love, rescue, and heal girls who have been rescued from trafficking and sexual exploitation.

I visited Rapha House in Cambodia a few years ago & have since kept up with their work and believe me, they are the real deal.

Other programs working with victims of sexual exploitation have reported an 80% failure rate (based on whether or not a victim will return to an exploitative situation) Rapha House success rate is over 95% because Rapha has a holistic, Christ-centered approach.

Rapha House currently has 3 homes in Southeast Asia with about 150 girls in safehouse programs. They also have Prevention Programs called Kids Club- and members of Journey sponsor about 80 Kids Club children. Journey also financially supports Rapha’s plans to open a safehouse in Haiti.

For more information please check out their website: (http://www.raphahouse.org)

Also check out Blackbox International- a Christian organization that seeks to bring healing to boys who have been sexually exploited. (http://blackboxinternational.org)

2) Prostitution- Many prostitutes are victims of human trafficking- one cannot easily separate the two since trafficking so heavily supplies the demand. But, even those who have entered into it by their own will are in fact victims. It is often referred to as a “vocational choice” or “unpleasant job” like cleaning toilets, when the facts show it as victimization and oppression. Survivors have described it as the choice for those who have no choice.

In the US- the average age of entry is 12-14 years old. These girls do not come from happy healthy homes. Research shows that most women in prostitution were sexually and physically abused at a young age. Of 854 people in prostitution in 9 countries- 71% experience physical assaults and 62% report rapes. 89% desire to leave, but feel they don’t have the resources to do so.

Prostitution takes place in the context of strip clubs, massage parlors, brothels, street corners, escort services, homes, and next to US military bases in foreign countries.

Prostitution would not exist without the demand and that high demand should open our eyes to the brokenness in our world; The brokenness of the victims and the brokenness of the perpetrators.

3) Pornography and Adult Entertainment- There are countless formats when it comes to pornography and adult entertainment- magazines, movies, the internet, Cable TV, strip clubs… I have to point out, when it comes to all of these forms of the sex industry, whether it’s in Cambodia or thee U.S., many women don’t freely choose it but are promised good jobs by sex traffickers and then end up enslaved, far from home with no passport.  And even if it really is a choice for some, just because someone views themselves as merely a sex object, does not mean that is what they are in the sight of God and it should not be what they are in the sight of the Christian. That’s why I love the work that Natasha Hurt does with her organization “Love Made Claim”. They take gift bags to strip clubs and women in the sex industry & just let the girls know they are loved and valuable. Surprisingly, they sometimes build relationships with the managers of these places who allow them to come in and deliver the gift bags. Love Made Claim also offers help to those wanting to leave the sex industry. (http://lovemadeclaim.com)

When it comes to pornography and the Christian perspective, whatever the format, we cannot differentiate between soft core or hard-core, so-called “classy” porn and “trashy” porn, upscale strip clubs or seedier strip clubs. Porn is porn, no matter the delivery method or context or the age of those involved.  (Side note, you should know that if you’re looking at Internet porn, there is a really good chance that the girls have been trafficked or are being used against their will.)  Sadly, popular opinion would have us believe that Hugh Hefner is a harmless old billionaire in silk pajamas who believes in freedom and openness and empowering women. It is evidence of his genius that he has convinced a so-called enlightened society that he is anything more than a glorified pimp.

Human beings are image bearers of the creator, but the world would have us view them as nothing more than the sum of their body parts.

The damage caused by pornography is far reaching- in 22 years of being married to a minister who works with youth and families, I have seen firsthand its destructive nature. Wives devastated, marriages broken, ministries destroyed, countless stories within the church… and our children are paying the price.

The American Psychiatric Association studied the effects of pornography and objectification and the results were summarized by Rachel Bell of the “Independent” in this way:  “The sexualisation of girls is not just shattering the lives of girls and women it is preventing boys and young men from relating to girls and women as complex human beings with so much to offer them. It is preventing boys from forming healthy friendships and working relationships with girls and women. Instead, it is nurturing potentially violent abusers, rapists, and johns. Ultimately, it means boys are not free to be themselves, to know their own humanity.” (Rachel Bell, Our sexual obsession damages boys as well as girls, [The Independent, 2/22/2007])

The church has sometimes created an environment where it is not safe to talk about pornography and the struggle that people face. At one church, a seminar that reached out to those struggling with pornography was publicized. A lady in the church complained, “I don’t want THOSE people coming to this church”.  The issue of pornography has been ignored and swept under the rug. But as my dad says, “If we keep sweeping things under the rug, eventually someone is going to move the rug”. The rug has been moved and we can’t ignore it any longer.

4) Sexual Objectification can be defined as “treating a person as a commodity or an object, without regard to their personality or dignity”.  I need to stop and explain myself here because of what I’m about to talk about. In Cambodia, I saw American men on the street with young Cambodian girls and it got me to thinking.  I thought, “where does this middle-aged American get the idea that he is entitled to this girl? That this is OK?”. I believe he got the idea from mainstream American culture because we are so comfortable with how our culture and media portrays women and even young girls as merely sexual objects to be sold.  I want us to consider whether we, as Christians, are participating in the objectification of women and even men.  It can be difficult to talk to American Christians about our entertainment and our rights. Everyone wants to talk about our rights as Americans and few want to talk about our responsibilities as Christ followers. When we objectify women in the safe context of American entertainment and culture, it has a ripple effect that extends to the girl imprisoned in the brothel in Cambodia.  When it comes to entertainment and what we indulge in, I want us to go back to that question we have been asking throughout this series and give an honest answer: Is it Good and Is it Godly?

In an article entitled “6 Things We Lose From Objectifying Women (and Men)”, Neal Samudre says this: “Today we seem so at peace as we continue to objectify women (and men to a lesser degree) on a daily basis. I’m terrified this culture will continue for my children, and one day they’ll dishonor the beautiful people around them, just because they’re not dancing naked in front of them.”  (Neal Samudre, 6 Things We Lose From Objectifying Women (and Men), [Huffington Post, 3/11/2014])

Sexual Objectification seems to be accepted as the norm in our society and if we dare question it we are labeled as backward thinking, sexually deprived prudes. It’s so pervasive it is impossible to NOT see it on TV, in movies, fashion & celebrity magazines, advertisements, and even some restaurants. The “Breastaurant” phenomenon (yes, that’s what they’re referred to as) is stronger than ever.

Successful chains include, Twin Peaks, and Hooters where girls can be pulled off the floor for the most minor flaw in their appearance or the Tilted Kilt, which touted itself in the Greeley tribune as a family-friendly restaurant. This is from an article posted on the Tilted Kilt web page- “If you’ve not yet heard of “breastaurants”, gird yourself. This new generation of mammary-centric casual dining chains- with their slick thematic formats, man-cave mentality and hyper-friendly female servers schooled in “touchology”- makes Hooters seem downright quaint”.  And the owners of these places have convinced us they are family friendly?  Again, this has nothing to do with whether or not women choose to objectify themselves. These businesses profit from the objectification of women, plain and simple. And as a Christian, I’m not OK with that. Isn’t the purpose of these businesses to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the male mind? To separate the humanity from the human? Is this what we want to teach our sons about the value of women? Is this the way we want our daughters to view themselves- as objects for sale? Is it empowering to subject yourself to any and all men who walk through the doors? From the husband and father to the guy living in his parents’ basement? Don’t we want our daughters to value True Beauty? Don’t we want all men and women to see themselves as priceless and valuable in the sight of God and not as commodities used by men for profit?  Is it any wonder that our daughters and even our sons struggle with eating disorders, distorted body image, and depression? When THIS is what is considered family friendly in our society. How can we view people as the images of a loving God when we objectify them through our choices of entertainment?

Is it good and is it Godly?

One Side note for the ladies only- a former Hooters girl who is now a Christian shared this: “I dare you to pray around the restaurant, go inside of it… and pray over the girls and men that are working in there. I needed prayer, I needed someone to stand in the gap for me. I needed you to share your story with me about how Christ changed your life.”

I can’t talk about the Sex Industry in our culture without mentioning another facet of pornography. Ladies, we can’t be disgusted by men looking at pornography or upset when our husband buys the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue if we indulge in what’s referred to by the world as “mommy porn”.  “Well that’s different! Women aren’t like men!” we say. For women, books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” where a woman is infatuated with an abuser or jerk or womanizer just because he’s good looking are our versions of Playboy. We are saying, our husband is not enough. We don’t want our husbands to know this, but it’s true. These type of books appeal to the female emotion and imagination by presenting twisted, even violent fantasies that certainly don’t promote relationships the way God intends them to be. His way is greater than our way. Is it Good and Is it Godly?

And what about hugely popular reality shows like “Big Brother” or “The Bachelor”.  Although it’s not the only show of its kind, I have to talk about the Bachelor because it’s so incredibly popular. Here’s the thing, I don’t want to talk about it because I know how popular it is with non-Christian and Christian women alike.  Trust me, I have tried in my mind to figure a way out of it, … On “The Bachelor”, a group of women compete for love and trade their dignity, privacy, self-respect and self worth for a chance at love, fame, or money. It culminates in the bachelor choosing the final 3 women who will each be invited to spend the night in his suite.  Yes, the

bachelor spends 3 nights in a row with 3 different women, followed of course by the romantic proposal. What every girl dreams of, right? Have we really lowered our standards so much that this is our idea of romance? Or do we just enjoy watching women embarrass themselves or engage in potentially destructive behavior? Do we like to look down on them? Should a Christian be entertained by this? I’ve been married to a youth minister for 22 years, able to observe youth culture up close…The normalcy of this kind of show affects the way teen girls interact with each other and view themselves, It affects the way guys and girls interact with each other, and the expectations they have for the opposite sex.   An article in SLATE magazine (not a Christian mag) says- “No show is as twisted about sex as “The Bachelor”.  (Willa Paskin, Finally, a Bachelor Contestant Exposes the Show’s Weird Sex Issues, [Slate 2/4/2014]) Ladies- Is it Good and Is it Godly? When it comes to some forms of entertainment, that is a decision we have to make for ourselves. It’s not a decision someone else can make for us. I’m not saying you can’t be a good Christian and watch the Bachelor. I’m just asking, Is it Good and Is it Godly?

So, that’s just a little about the Sex Industry (just the tip of the iceberg really) But now I want to talk a lot about Jesus. I could sit here all day and give you facts, figures, and statistics about the Sex Industry. But for every fact or statistic I would give you, I guarantee there is someone out there who could come up with a statistic that could show that this whole thing is no big deal. That the Sex Industry is perhaps undesirable, but not harmful to the world we live in. That pornography is actually good for society. So I have to go to God’s word because in the end, He is all that matters when it comes to these issues. This series is called Jesus AND because EVERYTHING in the life of the Christian should begin with “Jesus AND…”

WHY should we as Christians care about this? Because God cares about it. In Isaiah 1:17, we are commanded “Learn to do right; seek justice; correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless…”

We should care because God takes the subject seriously and because he cares about our purity. Not because he is a cruel dictator who wants to spoil our fun, but because he is a loving Father who wants to protect our hearts, our families, our churches and ultimately our souls. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” Do you trust him or not? Do you love him or not? Do you believe he knows what is best for you or do you believe the lies that the enemy is selling?

The Corinthian church was becoming arrogant and abusing their freedoms. Some of the Corinthian Christians were using prostitutes, believing that there was no difference in this matter between the Christian and anyone else. The church was plagued with sexual immorality.

Paul addresses this problem in his letter to the Corinthians… 1 Cor 5:11 “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed or is an idolator, reviler, drunkard or swindler- not even to eat with such a one”

1 Cor 5:13- “Purge the evil person from among you”

Wow, that’s some harsh language, right? Remember he is writing to the church, not judging the behavior of the world.

But the Corinthian Christians had become arrogant in thinking that they could live as they pleased with this newfound freedom that Christ had died for. They were saying things like “All things are lawful for me!” In other words (and this is my

interpretation here), “don’t tell me how to live my life!” “Don’t judge me!”  “I can eat what I want, I can party how I want to, I can have sex with whoever I want, isn’t that what freedom is all about?”

And here is Paul’s response- (quoting their claims) “All things lawful for me”- but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food!”- and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Cor 6:12-13

You see, the way we live should matter to us because it matters to God who wants us to experience true freedom, not the false freedom that the world offers.

So, I just want to share with you 3 responses that the Church should have when it comes to the Sex Industry and all that it entails.

1) FLEE

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you whom you have from God? Your are not your own for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

We need to FLEE LIKE JOSEPH (Genesis 39)- Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers and then rose the ranks to work in the household of Potiphar where he was in charge of everything. Joseph was a good-looking guy so it wasn’t long before Potiphar’s wife started making the moves on him, asking him to come to bed with her- and he refused time after time. One day Potiphar’s wife desperately grabbed Joseph by his robe and begged him “Lie with me!” But Joseph took off. He left his robe in her hand and fled out of the house. This made her angry and she falsely accused him and he ended up in jail. Joseph was such a man of integrity that he simply fled the scene. He had tried reasoning with her before and when that failed, he just ran away leaving his coat behind, and ultimately leaving his reputation, his job and his freedom behind. He was willing to leave it all behind to protect his integrity. He could have convinced himself that he had a right to Potiphar’s wife and could have easily given in, avoided angering her, and no one would have known. It may have been easier in the short run just to give in. But Joseph fled the scene! This is one time when fleeing the scene is a good thing! Sometimes it’s that simple; just leave, get out, run away. God will be with you! Time after time the Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph- no matter what his situation or hardship, the Lord was with Joseph because Joseph was committed to the Lord. Are we that committed to the Lord? Do we trust him? Do we love Him so much that we live to please Him the way Joseph did?

God cares about our commitment to Him-

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life- is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

“Whoever does the will of God abides forever” That is a promise and God keeps his promises.

FLEE like Joseph- If pornography in any way, shape or form, or any sexual immorality is tugging at you, begging you to give in like Potiphar’s wife did to Joseph…Just FLEE. Run. Get out. Do whatever you have to do to remove yourself. Sell your computer, get rid of your smartphone, your TV, leave whatever situation you need to leave, end your unhealthy relationships, leave your job, move your feet, whatever you need to do or leave behind, no matter the cost, because the cost to NOT flee will be much greater…

Joseph left his robe behind along with his job security, his reputation, his freedom, his power, his position…. What are you willing to leave behind in order to escape sexually immorality?

“forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead”. …(Isn’t that what Joseph did?) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13-14

2) FIGHT

We need to FLEE like Joseph but we also need to FIGHT like Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 4)

Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and was facing opposition from the enemy, Sanballat. He mocked Nehemiah and the Jews and threatened violence against them, but Nehemiah did not let this stop him. Instead he called his people to rise up-  Nehemiah 4:14- “I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes” It goes on to say the laborers worked on the wall with one hand and held weapons with the other.  I love that image of Nehemiah and the Jews, facing the enemy without fear and fighting to protect their families.

Notice Nehemiah did not say, “fight WITH your brothers… or WITH your children and wives.” Fight FOR them, for our battle is not against flesh and blood.

Colossians 2:5- “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”

You can’t put something to death without putting up a fight.

But God is saying to us what Nehemiah said to his people- “Don’t fear the enemy, Remember me, I am great and awesome- so pick up your weapon and fight”

Men- Fight for your purity. First you have to acknowledge the battle. It doesn’t matter if you look at porn 1 hour a week or 50. Any amount is too much. You have to admit to yourself that there is an enemy and be aware of his tactics. Is he mocking you the way Sanballat mocked Nehemiah and the Jews?  Is he telling you to give up because after all, you’re just a man and that’s what men do? Is  he telling you, you deserve to indulge yourself, who is it really hurting, no one will know? Is he making you feel worthless and hopeless because you fail time and time again? Those are all lies thrown at you by the enemy.

Fight not by your own power, but by the power of God and his word. The Bible is called the “sword of the Spirit” for a reason. We can’t go into battle without it.  Don’t let your guard down. Fill yourself up with His word.

1 Cor 10:12- “Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”

Stand with your brothers in Christ and talk openly with each other and encourage each other & stop pretending. Married men, FIGHT for your marriages. Be honest with your wife so

she can have your back. Trust me, your wife wants to have your back. Most women I know will go to battle for their husbands. She doesn’t expect you to be perfect but she doesn’t want you to fall.

Go back to that image of Nehemiah and the Jews standing side by side with their weapons in one hand and working to build the wall with the other. Men- that is the way we need you to build up your families and the church and the people around you. Without fear, keep working, encourage each other, and be ready for the fight at all times so the enemy doesn’t catch you off guard.

Women- We need to fight also. We need to fight for our purity. Stop objectifying ourselves on Facebook or by any other means, reasoning that any kind of attention is good attention. Single women, be the kind of woman that younger women can look up to as someone who values herself and carries herself with dignity. Not as someone who places her value in the worlds shallow definition of beauty but seeks true beauty.

Married women, you need to have your husbands back. You need to help him guard his heart and his mind. You need to guard your OWN heart and mind by being careful about what you watch and read. And you need to understand that just because something may not seem like a temptation or a big deal to you, that does not mean it is not a temptation for your husband. Are there magazines in your house that you need to throw away because they are full of women wearing next to nothing? Your husband is your brother for whom Christ died… Don’t let your rights become a stumbling block to him. Does your husband have magazines that you need to throw away and then have a talk about? Or an Internet history that you need to talk about? If you need to, get rid of the Internet in your home for his sake! Would you rather lose the Internet or your husband? If your husband is looking at porn, you are not protecting him by keeping his secret for him. Are you enabling your husband’s habit or addiction to pornography by looking the other way or are you willing to go into battle with him, pray for him and urge him to get the help he needs? If he refuses to get help for himself, keep praying and if he still refuses get help for him or at the very, least for yourself.

Parents. Please, please protect your home. Make it a safe place for your kids. The ONE place where they don’t have to be exposed to the twisted version of sexuality that the world is selling. Don’t we owe that to them as their protectors? Practically speaking, have your computer in an open place in your home, not tucked away in a private place. I cringe when I see computers in kids bedrooms. Personally I don’t think you should give your middle-schooler a smart phone- it’s just too dangerous and pornography is too easily accessed, even by accident.  I’ve just read and heard too many stories. A Christian friend and wonderful Christian mom shared with me that her very young son had been looking at porn. She didn’t realize he was accessing it on a smartphone in his room.  This doesn’t just happen to the bad kids or families that don’t care.

Parents, Protect your daughters’ hearts by modeling what real love is, not the Bachelor version. Tell her she is beautiful, not because she meets impossible standards but because she is God’s masterpiece. Teach your sons to respect girls and women and don’t allow them to objectify them.  Do your best to teach them about the dangers that they will face and how to fight.

Don’t judge their struggles, be honest about your own struggles, listen, love them, and help them.  Teach your son to reject what our culture says it means to be a man and show him what it means to be a man of God.

FIGHT not just for your families, but for those who can’t fight for themselves. Fight for the victims of sex trafficking, the girls trapped in brothels and strip clubs in Cambodia and Haiti, the girls at Rapha House, the prostitute on the street corner.

I am tired of seeing the enemy win. I am tired of seeing the enemy destroy people. The enemy is a liar and a fool.

“FIGHT for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes”

3) FREE

We need to FREE like Jesus. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1

Did you know that a slave cannot set another slave free? A slave cannot set another slave free! If we want to partner with Christ in bringing freedom to the captives, then we need to be free ourselves first.

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” 

I love the powerful imagery of the runner casting aside anything that slows him down. The image of the trained athlete that has his eyes focused solely on the race in front of him.

God has set a great work before us when it comes to those trapped in the Sex Industry or suffering from the effects of the Sale and marketing of sex in our world. If we want to endure, if we want to join with him in this work and FREE like Jesus, then with his help, we need to be FREE ourselves. What seems impossible to man is possible with Jesus- Hebrews 4:15&16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Did you get that? Tempted in EVERY respect. Jesus has gone before us. Jesus is with us. Jesus is there to help, strengthen and forgive us.

SEEK Freedom so that you can SHARE freedom:

Paul puts it like this in 2 Timothy 2:20-22 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay. Some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passion and pursue righteousness, faith love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart”

I want to be a vessel for honorable use. I want to be useful to God. I want God to use us to change the world.  I want God to use us to free ALL those used by the sex industry, especially the girls that Rapha House works with. But to be set apart for that good work, we have to cleanse ourselves. We have to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.

May we love Jesus.

May we know His love.

May we see people the way Jesus sees them.

May we love people the way Jesus loves them.

May we serve Jesus with a pure heart.

 

May we Flee like Joseph.

May we Fight like Nehemiah.

May we Free like Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been 26 years today since my Dad died.

My sitting next to Dad circa 1975

Me sitting next to Dad circa 1975

I miss him, so much.

My oldest daughter just got married.

I can’t tell you how many times this summer I’ve longed for my Dad’s advice.

If I could just have 30 minutes with my Dad . . .

but that will have to wait.

The older I get the more real Heaven becomes.

As a child it was a place with a lot of clouds and harps, but with each year that passes on this side of eternity it becomes a place with a lot of my friends and family.

This morning I stumbled across this video of David Phelps singing, No More Night. This song is special to me and my family. Our dear friend Tony Buchanan sang this song at my Dad’s memorial service. Actually, Tony started the song, but–overcome by emotion–couldn’t finish it, so my sister Leigh-Angela jumped up, stood next to Tony and they finished it together.

It reminded me of why Heaven is going to be worth it.

No more night.
No more pain.
No more tears.
Never crying again.
Praises to the great I Am.
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

And remember, it’s not a dream; God WILL make all things new one day.

Miss you Dad!