Defining Ourselves Differently

Its Sunday, and the Every Mans Battle workshop ended just a few hours ago. One of the guys said before he left:

“Today I choose to live as a son, no longer in the shame of my addiction but in the freedom of what Jesus has done for me.”

His perception of himself shifted this weekend. He arrived defining himself as the sum total of his bad choices. He left acknowledging that he has done a bunch of really bad things, yet that’s not who he is. Or better said; Whose he is. He was able to see that the very fact that he had done so many bad things was indicative of his need for a savior. And not just to remove guilt, but to confirm belonging. He belongs to Jesus. In Christ we find the truth that we are dearly loved and infinitely valuable.

Does all this mean he isn’t responsible for the pain he’s caused? No. Does it guarantee he’ll never do it again? No. Does it mean his marriage will be restored? Not necessarily.

But it does mean that he can stop hating himself. It does mean he can stop trying to perform his was into a deeper relationship with Jesus. And the byproduct of those 2 things alone often result in less acting out. The downward spiral is coming screeching to a halt and a new, redemptive ripple effect is beginning.

And that’s just 1 guy!

I love these weekends.

Instincts

Another devotional thought –

Jude 1:10

But these people sneer at anything they can’t understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing—living by animal instinct only—they participate in their own destruction.

Some things we instinctively understand can be very dangerous if misused. It is easy to write-off something that is instinctual because it seems so natural, so simple, so expected. But, in order to live well and honor God, we have to learn to contain those instinctual impulses and let them guide us accordingly.

Consider food; eating is instinctual isn’t it? We all know the dangers of overeating or eating really poorly though; diabetes, stroke, heart attack, etc.
Let’s take sex; seems pretty instinctual too, right? If we’re honest, some of us have misused our sexuality too. We’ve engaged in acts we swore we would never commit, with people we never imagined, at times and places we would otherwise never visit.

Too often I hear men express their “high sex drive” as the reason they act out sexually with pornography, masturbation and even affairs. “It’s natural for me to want to have sex” they say. Then, when coached or guided on containing those instinctual impulses and delaying sexual gratification, they get defensive, argumentative and angry. In other words, they sneer at the advice.

Perhaps Jude was speaking to us when this scripture written, encouraging us to look deeper than our animal instincts.

Might our lives be different, and our relationship with God be different, if we tried to acknowledge our natural instinctual impulses as both physical and spiritual?

If we’ll allow it, our natural instincts can lead us in 2 ways; 1) to act in a physical way and 2) to act in a spiritual way.

The urge to eat can prompt us to find food for nourishment of our bodies. It can also be a prompt for us to seek spiritual nourishment too. That’s partly why we see fasting can be such a spiritual experience. The same can be true of sex. Sexual desire can be a prompt to engage intimately with another human, and by the same token, perhaps it can signal our need to engage intimately with our Creator.

What if sexual temptation and lustful thoughts are actually a cue to connect with God rather than just an opportunity to sin. We get to decide what it will be for each of us today.

Afflicted for Our Good

A quick devotional thought to start the week-

Could it be that God afflicts us, or perhaps allows us to be afflicted, for our own good? But what good? How could good come from the destruction and hopelessness that plagues so many guys struggling with sexual sin? And further, how could good come to the wives of those men?

I think God wants us to learn for ourselves what value there is in his Word, decrees and laws. I don’t know about you but I seem to learn more from my mistakes than my successes. When I bump up against something that seems like sandpaper on my soul, it stings. It is abrasive. It’s painful.

And I learn where the margins are. Don’t you?

We learn how our sin impacts us. We learn how it impacts others. We learn how it grieves the heart of God. Ultimately, without that abrasiveness, we might end up even further off the rails. I look back today and know that my addiction was the tool/affliction God allowed to help me see my need for Him. I mean really see it. And for Shelley, she would say that my addiction was the best thing that’s happened to her. Today she knows herself, God and me in more intimate ways than ever before.

God may just love us enough to allow us to put our hand on the hot stove. Perhaps in his sovereignty he knows exactly what we need to turn back to him.

Questions:

1 – Can you see the potential for your affliction to draw you closer to God? If not, why? If so, how?

2 – Are there places in your life, other than sexual sin, where you feel like you are being afflicted?

To do’s:

Prayer::  It seems only prudent to pray for God to remove the affliction and let us have a break. After that, let’s pray for God to teach us about His righteousness, His decrees and His faithfulness right in the middle of our afflictions.

Connection:: Talk with your connections/accountability partners/Sustained Victory guys about how you feel afflicted. Ask for their input on changing your perspective; see if they can help you identify places to learn and grow, rather than be bitter, resentful or just simply resigned.