God at the Brothel Door!

Sam Fraser

100 years ago, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God.”

God at a brothel door? Provocative thought. What was he getting at? Perhaps we have turned to sexual encounters, via prostitute, massage parlor, sexual affair or the good old standby porn because we don’t know how to connect more deeply with God?

What we hunger and search for in this old world cannot, will not be satisfied through the ways of the world. Being made in God’s Image, we can only satisfy those deepest longings by being in relationship with Him. Perhaps, what we are resorting to is a disappointment that we cannot seem to remedy in isolation, by ourselves to ourselves, alone. Alone, in that deepest part of being, yearning to fill that part of us that is empty, in pain, or a deep desire for transcendence, but disappointed, falling short every time. It requires effort and self discipline, and more than a little suffering as we work through our immaturity, dig down into our unfinished business from the past. It is very much in our human fallen nature to not want to make the effort. It is much easier to settle for mediocrity and resign ourselves to second best. The easier way, the counterfeit, that is less demanding. Sexually acting out in whatever form we have established will always be a far cry from what God’s best… and we know that.

“Every time a man
knocks on a brothel door,
he is really searching for God.’
G.K. Chesterton

As good as the anticipation may be, the acting out and release that takes place, it is not long before whatever gratification we enjoyed, gets exchanged for the condemnation, guilt and shame that follows. The old hollow feelings return to haunt and taunt as it becomes the seedbed for the next acting out to occur as the cycle repeats itself all over again.

Although there is a momentary pleasure, however shallow and temporary it may be, it does draw us back again and again, over and over, even though it never remedies our deepest longings. It only medicates and distracts us from the pain. Until next time, when the unmet need reels us back to the old unsatisfactory acting out. We knock, and knock again at the brothel door. It is safer, easier, and a less demanding counterfeit in lieu of the real deal.

With a little thought, it begins to make sense what old G. K. was getting at. But the kicker is how can we find a way to enjoy the pleasures of God more than the pleasures of sin? If sin didn’t feel so good, it would not be so difficult to stop. We are sexual beings and as men we are designed to respond to stimulation. Putting ourselves in stimulation’s way has become very easy these days. But how to de-sexualize our need for intimacy with ourselves, others and God makes sense upstairs in our heads, but doesn’t seem to have much pull downstairs in our hearts where the emotions and drives can seem so overwhelmingly powerful and seemingly impossible to stop at times. It is easy to get discouraged and resign ourselves to defeat.

To experience more pleasure and enjoyment with God than through the old, old habits of sin is the $64,000 question (with inflation maybe it is now the ten million dollar question).

Each one of us in our own way needs to discover how we can enjoy God, to find pleasure in relationship to Him to such a degree of depth and intimacy that the pleasures of the flesh, of this world, or of our own selfish indulgence can be confronted, battled and defeated. Ephesians 3:17-19 says it this way:

May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (NLB)

The point I want to raise is to get you thinking about the making a conscious choice between the two types of pleasures. It will take a little thought and some creative experimentation and you may have to try out several different activities to make the right connection, of enjoying the pleasures with God, but it is worth the effort.

Through this growing process, there are as many different ways that fits us to a ‘t’ that can fulfill the knocking inside. So experiment: try this, try that, don’t stop, the Lord will help you. He wants this even more than we do! Get those legitimate needs met in a healthy expression of an intimate relationship with the Lord….regularly.

For me, one of the greatest ways, when I am alone and circumstances dictate that I have to find a way to enjoy myself without access to others has been to whip out my ever-growing collection of praise and worship c’d’s. Worship opens the door to all the Lord’s goodness. Psalm 30:4-5 says,

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!

I particularly like the Vineyard style of contemporary music. To each his own. The point being is to try out some different activities, get creative, find some ways that will bring you to God and experience deeper pleasure with Him rather than our own former discretions.

Knock, knock, knock…. go in.

Practical Repentance

Joe Dallas

Did sin ever yield real pleasure? If so, go back to your old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delights you. But inasmuch as sin did never give you what it promised to bestow, but deluded you with lies, be free. ‘Charles Spurgeon

When you’re angry enough, scared enough, or frustrated enough, you take action. So it is with sexual sin. If you’re ready to repent of it, you’re probably angry (‘I’ve had it!’), scared (‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’), or feeling the futility of it all (‘There’s no future in this for me!’). All three roads lead to repentance.

To repent is to turn. That’s what distinguishes repentance from confession, which is a simple acknowledgment of sin as opposed to actively turning from it. It is through confession, according to John 1:9, that we are forgiven of sin: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ I John 1:9 But confession doesn’t necessarily change us, important as it is.

God not only calls us to acknowledge our sin; He also commands us to put it away. Now ‘repent’ is a word we associate with dour men in sackcloth warning us about the coming doom. That’s too bad, because repentance is a valuable concept. It means ‘to think differently, reconsider, turn around.’ No real changes are made without it.

Repentance is the willful act of discontinuing a thing which is destructive, followed by an earnest effort to do what is constructive and right. In short, without confession nothing is forgiven, but without repentance nothing is changed. To repent, or turn, you need to first identify what you’re repenting of, then determine the most effective way to do it. Exactly what do you need to repent of? Of course, you can’t repent of having sexual impulses. You can’t rip them out and abandon them, and you can’t just will them away. Repentance applies to acts of the conscious will, whether they are outward actions or inward indulgences. So you are not trying to repent of sexuality per se but of conscious sexual sins. These would of course include sexual contact apart from marriage, and the use of pornography. These are direct forms of immoral behavior, easy to detect and obviously immoral.

‘We can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.’ -Martin Luther

Sexual fantasies are similar. They, like sexual lust, are conscious acts of the imagination. And they too need to be distinguished from fleeting sexual thoughts. Martin Luther, speaking of impure thoughts, said that we can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair. That’s pretty well put. Wayward sexual thoughts come to everyone, I suppose, but when we indulge those thoughts by orchestrating sexual fantasies, then we’re not just having fleeting thoughts; we’re creating mental pornographic home movies.

But repentance shouldn’t stop there. You should also consider any activities that contribute to them or encourage them. Here you need to be very honest with yourself. Are there parts of your lifestyle’habits, places you like to go, forms of recreation’that encourage sexual immorality? That’s a question every Christian has to ask himself; it’s a question that’s doubly pertinent to you. So often, men can go on kidding themselves, then wonder why they’re not making any progress. They claim to want freedom, and seem willing to give up overt sexual sin, but show an unwillingness to give up the very things that lead them back into that activity. In all matters, the question should never be ‘Is going to such and such a place an overt sin?’ but rather ‘Do I have the liberty to go to this place without setting myself up to stumble? Will it encourage me toward my goals, or will it encourage me toward a setback?’

If you’re serious about repentance, bring every part of your life under scrutiny. Remember, you’re trying to emerge from the mindset of a child to that of an athlete, putting aside anything that interferes with your ultimate goal. That, in the truest sense, is repentance.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.

Fresh Start

hand&treeSeptember is just around the corner, and for many people September means a new start, a fresh start. Students, from kindergarten to graduate school are preparing to begin a new year of classes which will equip them to be successful in life. In churches around the country, September means a new start; pastors starting a new series, Sunday School classes starting new curriculum, and men’s ministries starting new topics of discussion. How about you? Do you feel the need for a fresh start right now?

Let’s look at a couple of areas where a new and fresh start might be just the thing that you need to get you out of the ‘dog days of August.’

How about a fresh start in your relationship with God? Are you spending time with Him each day, in His Word and in prayer? There is no way to have a relationship with someone, anyone, if you don’t spend time with them. The first point of Joe’s after-care action plan is to have a quiet time, even if it’s only about 10 or 15 minutes, with the Lord each day. You really don’t have the desire to do that? My encouragement would be to do it anyway. My guess is that your desire will come around after awhile. C.S. Lewis said, “it’s easier to act your way into a feeling than it is to feel your way into an action.” If you wait till you feel like having a quiet time you may never do it. Just go ahead and start your plan of 10-15 minutes a day with the Lord and watch Him work on your feelings. The quiet time with the Lord is the first and most important way to get, or continue on the road to sexual sobriety and purity. Remember that you can do everything through the One who strengthens you.

How about a fresh start in your relationships with your wife, or other significant relationships? This is the perfect time to suggest to your wife that you sit and read ‘Every Woman’s Marriage‘ together. After she’s picked herself up off the floor from fainting, suggest a night that you can sit together and read, and experience some emotional and spiritual closeness. This fall can be the perfect opportunity for you to initiate that emotional connectedness that you’ve been missing in your relationship. That connectedness is one thing that will help you in your quest to get victory over the hurtful, inappropriate connectedness that you may have been trying to get through pornography. You’re not married? How about a fresh start with your friends, or family? How about reaching out to that buddy who you know would make a great accountability partner? How about making a fresh start with that son or daughter that you’ve hurt in the past with your actions and haven’t talked to in awhile. God’s forgiveness has felt fresh and new to you since Every Man’s Battle, so let’s pass it on to others. Come on, let’s make a fresh start in September. It’ll take a little work, but it will be worth it.