Archives For struggling with lust

Jesus had 12, I have 11

February 16, 2018 — 3 Comments

From the time I was 19 until I was 33 years old I was in the US Navy and surrounded primarily by men. It was no wonder that when I got saved, at about age 30, I sought out Christian men to disciple me. I didn’t know the Christian lingo back then so that really meant, “Help me to understand what just happened and what I am supposed to do now.”

Promise Keepers was in full effect back then and we went to giant conferences, had weekly meetings at church and generally chatted about Christ centered things. I was introduced to concepts like sexual purity, not partying like a rock star and not cussing like a sailor. Yay! I was also introduced to pure, unconditional love, my sins washed white as snow and the unimaginable joy of Heaven. (I choose the latter while admittedly struggling with the former.)

The influence and caring of those men was key to my early Christian walk and I am forever grateful for them. Over the last 23 years and through the course of my intermittently hot, warm and cold walk with Christ the influence of Christian men has been crucial to my survival.

Why can’t I just be an awesome Christian man without other men being all up in my business? Why does isolation from them equate to a walk down a slippery slope? I suspect it’s like Paul said in Romans 7, I want to be pure and holy, “But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me.” He goes on to say that Jesus delivers him. Based on the entirety of his comments I take that to mean that Jesus’ work has washed his sins away.

Jesus modeled this fellowship with other men in that while he had many disciples he had 12 that He primarily hung out with and they relied on one another. I’ve previously written, “In Mark 6 Jesus sends out the 12 in pairs of two. In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 men in pairs. The apostles often traveled in pairs and we see them relying on one another throughout the New Testament. Moses had Aaron. When David was home alone, not surrounded by other men, he didn’t do so well.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” James tells us, “…confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Proverbs is full of advice about Godly friendships including, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” 27:17, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship” 12:26, and “A friend loves at all times…”17:17.”

My answer to this comes in the form of a men’s group formed through Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC).  CLC is a nationwide, interdenominational, men’s ministry that, “…challenges men to an uncommon pursuit of Christ. We facilitate small groups of committed believers who refuse to be satisfied with the status quo and desire a deeper relationship with Christ.”

Eleven of us have committed to a 2 year journey to walk out our lives together, to dive into the scriptures and to read and discuss a collection of books we are working through. Between us I think we represent 10 or 11 different churches. We meet weekly from 6-8am on Wednesday mornings and walk through this process. During the week we call each other and participate in group texts offering mutual encouragement, prayer requests and funny things we find online. I’ve personally, and deservedly, been encouraged to refrain from late night group texting, sorry Bryan.

I got this phone call yesterday, “Jimmy my boy! I just landed in New Jersey and wanted to give you a call to see how you’re doing.”  I am being prayed for, encouraged and befriended. As I reread that it sounds a little hokey but I don’t care. I’m grateful. One guy  sometimes sets his phone alarm to pray for me three times a day! Brothers, this kind of encouragement in your life can be a game changer.

While I strongly recommend the CLC program I have been involved in other men’s groups and I think the important thing is that every Christian man is involved with a group of men. Jesus models it and the examples of this principle run throughout the Bible.

We are in a battle with an enemy who is constantly on the prowl seeking to destroy us. He knows our weaknesses and seeks to cut us from the pack like a lion isolating an injured water buffalo and ruin our lives. While we cannot be snatched from the Lord’s hand many are led away by their own desires. (I recall the vampires I saw in comic books as a child who could only come in if you let them.) We open the door to the enemy through our thoughts, what we look at, what we listen to and who we spend our time with.

Having men in your lives who know our struggles is invaluable. We call it “opening the kimono”, it ain’t pretty and it’s embarrassing. As a matter of fact, right before our group was set to kick off with a fellowship and “opening the kimono” session I called my friend, and the President of CLC, and said, “These guys aren’t ready for what I’ve got to say. I don’t want to become their project they need to fix.”  He assured me they could handle it and that my story wasn’t as unique as I might imagine. He was right. We’re men, there’s nothing new.

A couple short months into our weekly meetings we are growing closer, studying, encouraging and forming new friendships. While, on one hand, I’m still a dumpster fire of a Christian man on the other hand I have peace knowing that my righteousness is because of Jesus, I am not condemned and I am being transformed by the power of the gospel, even after being saved for over 20 years.

If your church doesn’t have a men’s group that meets regularly and deals with the real stuff you need one. If you need help joining one or putting one together let me know. It could save your life.

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A Wandering Eye

October 25, 2014 — 2 Comments

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Right after I got saved, a gentleman in his mid-seventies helped me put my wandering eye into perspective. I asked him, “How old do you have to be before a beautiful woman no longer catches your eye?” He said, “You’ll have to ask somebody older than me.”

I have to admit that his response was not a comfort to me. “So you’re saying that this could go on for a while?”  Apparently God made men to appreciate a well put together woman.  Well then, why did Jesus say, “… anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Jesus understands how our minds work.  In James chapter 1 we see that, “…each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”  The key point here is, “carried away by his own lust.” If we see a woman and then take a moment or two to ponder & further appreciate the details of her specific structure, perhaps considering the possibilities, we have moved into sin.

Alternatively, if we “…take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ”  (2Cor10:5), right up front, immediately, we can avoid this.  I am not claiming this is easy, especially as we are initially training ourselves, perhaps even after years of training. It is, however, vital.

We have plenty of opportunities to either accept or reject thoughts that are presented to us. The battleground is in the mind, the weapons are spiritual and the enemy is not our flesh but satan and his host of chuckleheads.

There is no shortage of Christian men who have indulged in their fantasies and those fantasies have led to their destruction.  Make no mistake, the place to handle this issue is immediately, as the thought springs up. Ending up in bed with someone you shouldn’t be with isn’t the result of a bad decision, it is the result of many bad decisions. Those decisions started as a thought, pondered on, entertained, mulled over, revisited and finally acted on.

Consider King David, he was already on a slippery slope when he gazed upon a bathing Bathsheba. David was home when he should have been out with his men, he had multiple wives in direct violation of God’s law and he had concubines . At this point in his life David was obviously given to self-indulgence.  Bathsheba wasn’t his ruin, all the other things he had allowed in his life up to that point led to his ruin. When he considered Bathsheba he had already established a pattern of indulgence in his life. Bathsheba was the natural progression.

I’ve heard it said, “Men either struggle with lust or lie about struggling with lust.” I don’t know if that’s true but I know that every man I have spoken to about the subject has had challenges. Here’s the good news, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” “All things are possible with God” “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2Cor10:4), “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…”(Rom8:37) and “God stands over His word to perform it.” (Jer1:12). How about this, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor12:9).  Those are some promises from God that we should continually speak over our lives.

Here are just a few practical things we can do to keep our walk where it needs to be.

  1. Immerse ourselves in His word. Our minds need to be cleansed, renewed, continually. Romans 12:2 says, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Our mind is renewed by the word of God. Attending church is a given. Additionally, use your commute to and/or from work to listen to teaching CD’s. I PROMISE you it will make a difference in your life.
  2. Keep a short account with God. Our first inclination may not be to run to God when we sin but it should be. “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” God already knows, you might as well get before Him and make it right and move forward. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John1:9). God is not sick and tired of hearing you repent even though you may be sick and tired of having to repent. Your previous sin is as far from you as the east is from the west if you brought it to Him. It doesn’t accumulate, it is GONE. He made provision for your sin and He said, “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus took that sin on Himself and nailed it to a cross. DONE.
  3. Get in relationship with another man, or men, and support one another. You are not alone in your temptations or your propensities. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…” (1Cor10:13) Satan wants you to feel alone and offers the stinking wet blanket of Shame to put on. Shame is a cheap imitation of Godly conviction that brings us to repentance and then goes away.

Build a strong relationship with another Godly man and “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam1:16) BAM! Get ahold of that! How about this, “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” And, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc4) I could go on, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” (Pro27:17)

God has given us an amazing gift, woman. He has told us how to appreciate her (Eph5:25), He made us to connect in so many wonderful ways, He has given us a license to do so and He commands that we do it within the bounds of marriage. Jesus Himself was tempted in every way that we are and fully understands our temptations. He took our sins upon Him and through Him we have strength to overcome as well as His grace and forgiveness when we fail. Don’t let satan kick your ass. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Paul said, “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phi3:13,14). “Forgetting what is behind…” means getting up after you fall down, recommit and “straining toward what is ahead…” PRESS ON BROTHERS! Can I get an “Amen!”?