Life After 2 PM

It came across to me one Sunday that I do not listen as well to the Spirit of God when I am out of an element of Godly fellowship or church related activity. As an example, on church days I am able to cage my internal ego knowing I am going to be fed and experience some good ole God joyfulness (especially during ‘praise and worship time’) at my church. At church I believe and experience the Spirit of God speaks to me. This is a place where I let God reveal things to me, comfort me, confront me and challenge me (that is where this article is coming from). It seems to follow me from the rise of the morning to the service and somewhat into the early afternoon. But then something happens! Somewhere around 2 PM, my internal ego is let out of its cage: I got it, I’m good, I can do it God.’ Then the rest of the week begins the wrestle of ‘who’s the boss here?’

Most commonly, at that point I do go on and deliver my week of obligations, promises and commitments to social systems and family. But as the week tarries on, it appears that my life becomes a highway I have entered onto and it speeds up ever so quickly. Internally, while on the highway of life, I truly am waiting for the next off-ramp to pull over and take a rest as in the animated movie ‘Cars’ when Mac is driving Lightning McQueen to the California coast for his big race. On the way they are driving late at night and Lightning wants Mac to pull an all-nighter to get to the coast before the challengers do. Mac being aware of his strength, energy and regulations (rules and boundaries) tells Lightning that he is tired and should pull over to rest.

But Mac gives in (against his better judgment) to Lightning’s promptings to drive on only because Lightning exclaimed he would stay awake with him the whole trip. As expected, Mac is left alone in the late hour, driving to keep himself awake while Lightning is fast asleep. In the mist of this late night journey three cars come around and taunt and tease Mac as he is swerving on the road (because he is falling asleep). And that is exactly how I have observed and experienced not tending to care or protect my life from the ‘highway of life.’ And life after 2 PM on Sunday seems to be the spot when we get onto the highway and proceed and exit only if truly necessary. And often against the better judgment of our heart and soul, our ego says drive on. It is there we place ourselves into a dangerous circumstance. As when Mac was having difficulty staying awake and swerving on the road he then became vulnerable to the three other little cars directing and pushing him around on the highway. And Mac being a huge truck is moved around easily by little sporty cars.

Do you think that you are so big that nothing could truly push you around? Are you one who tends to hit the road with the family (or by yourself) and NEVER stop till you make your destination? And if you do have to stop, does it cause you to become angry, annoyed or frustrated with those who have to take a ‘potty/stretch break?’

It seems a bit interesting that author M. Scott Peck titled his book ‘The Road Less-Traveled.’ In that book, the author challenges readers to consider the path they chose and why they pick it with regard to their healing and faith in Jesus. In avoidance of any difficulty and struggle for growth, many appear to take a fast way of living: the highway. For example, as a sexual addict, you may select a supposedly quick fix path for recovery (like: I’ll just read “Every Man’s Battle” and I am good from here on). Taking the ‘road’ implies taking-in the environment you are traveling through and where you have come from. While the ‘highway’ implies ‘just get me there.’ Irregardless you are left with the choice when it comes to 2 PM on Sunday. Either you can start a journey at the ‘road’ or the ‘highway.’ The most enjoyable, nurturing, fulfilling and healing seems to always be taking the road in life. But then again, now its 2:07 PM and you can either exit onto the road of healing or, zoom-on missing the healing and rewarding life God has for you from your sexual addiction.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Martin Fierro

Reason for Hope

Jim Phillis

“I have prayed for God to deliver me so many times and He hasn’t done it. He must not be listening to my prayers any more because I keep sinning.’

Whether you’ve said this or only thought it, you know the tone of voice that expresses these words, sad, halting words that trail off at the end. The unspoken thought that accompanies this: ‘If I feel condemned, I must be condemned.’

Thankfully, the Gospel is an enduring message of hope for all sinners, which includes those struggling with sexual sin. The Bible provides three God-focused reasons for hope: God’s character, His promises to His people, and His work in His people’s lives.

God’s character

God’s character is clearly revealed in the Bible. We read that He is eternal, self-existing, all-powerful, all-knowing, present everywhere, holy, just, faithful, and merciful, among other things. As we read through this list, we can wonder how He can be all these things at the same time and not be internally conflicted. Whereas I struggle to be consistent in my character, He is holy and forgiving at the same time without compromising either quality in any degree. Yes, God is holy and punishes sin, but His is also merciful and desires to forgive the sinner. God resolved this seeming conflict by sending the Lord Jesus to fulfill the Law. Because of His perfect obedience, the Lord Jesus could then go to the Cross as the sacrifice for sins, paying the penalty required for sin and providing a way for God to express His mercy to sinners. Knowing His character provides hope for the sinner, because He really is merciful.

God’s promises

Which promises should we focus on in seeking renewed hope after falling into sexual sin?

Our greatest fear usually arises from our doubts that God can forgive the sin that we have entered into OR that the number of times we have returned to our sin will overtax His grace and He will have to punish us. So the first promises to claim are those relating to His mercy in forgiving sinners. Romans 5:8 declares: ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ Then we can read: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and will purify us from all unrighteousness.'(1 Jn. 1:9) Thankfully, the Bible is full of such promises: Gal. 3:13, Eph. 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7, and Rom. 7:21-8:2 Beyond this, He promises that He won’t abandon us or the work of faith that He has begun in us, but He will finish the work, Php. 1:6 and Rom. 8:38-39.

God also promises to give those caught in sin new futures. My personal favorite is found in Joel 2:25. After Joel tells God’s people that four waves of locusts are coming as a work of God’s judgment against sin, he speaks God’s promises to them, ‘I will repay you for the years that the locusts have eaten’.’ No only will He forgive, but He will restore to the people those things that they have lost as a consequence of their sin. God promises to do the same thing in many other places, such as Jeremiah 29:11-14. His grace and mercy are great; He is worthy of praise!

We can also seek and find strength in a third kind of promise, that God will supply grace for strength in resisting temptation and living by faith. Peter writes: ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.'(2 Pt. 1:3-4) Paul expresses another promise of God’s power unleashed in us by faith in Ephesians 3:20. By our own admission, we have failed to experience this in the past, but our experience doesn’t mean that the promise isn’t true. Rather, we have simply not experienced the fulfillment of the promise in our lives yet!

God’s work

The Bible is remarkably explicit in detailing the sins of God’s people. In reading of God’s work in the lives of other sinners we can find the greatest hope. God has healed and restored many sinners so that He is able to use them to accomplish His work. I remember the initial shock when a preacher pointed to the fact that 5 of those that Matthew lists in Jesus’ genealogy are sexual sinners: Judah, Tamar, Rahab, David, and Solomon. Their sin didn’t prevent them from being in the line nor did their sin keep them from being listed.

God uses the church to restore redeemed sinners. He provides instructions for this kind of work in Galatians 6:1 and in 1 Corinthians 5. The church should exercise discipline for the purpose of bringing the sinner back into fellowship. This is the work that we need to be doing in relationship with each other, asking the difficult accountability questions and urging that sexual boundaries are maintained while praying for each other and speaking the words of forgiveness that restore. James urges us: ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed’ (5:16). In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoes this: ‘A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person.’ The brother not only hears the confession but speaks the truth of the Gospel in response, ‘You no longer need to remain dead in your sins; Jesus died to make you alive. Go and live in Him.”

‘When we return to our sin, we often find it difficult to read the Bible. We quickly forget God’s character, that He loves us and has acted in order to forgive us. We also forget His promises,that He is not done working in us and still has plans for our lives to give us hope. We neglect the evidence of His finished work in the lives of His people, both those recorded in the Bible and in history.

In the book, The Heart of a Servant Leader, Jack Miller recounts the story of Brownlow North, an evangelist in Great Britain whose ministry began about 1858. North lived a life of known before entering ministry. Attempts were made to prevent him from entering the ministry and later to keep him from preaching. On one occasion North took a letter detailing his sins into the pulpit and read it for all to hear. He acknowledged the truth of the letter, but used the letter to proclaim the wonders of the Gospel. Miller writes: ‘The very thing that Satan hoped to use to destroy North became a powerful evangelistic tool in his daring hands.’

God makes ugly things beautiful. He did it with a crucifixion. There is good reason to hope that He will do it with you.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Underground Anger

Stephen Arterburn

A lot of people, especially Christians, have a great deal of trouble with the fact that Jesus got angry. It’s not so difficult to say that His cleansing of the temple was “righteous indignation.” But it’s quite another thing to admit that the Son of God, the perfect man, was angry; for everybody knows that anger is a sin, right?

 

This misunderstanding of anger has caused many men to push their anger out of bounds in another direction—denying it, suppressing it, or pretending it isn’t there. They feel they have no other choice, because in their thinking it’s always wrong, always sinful, to be angry. But guys, suppressed anger is just as harmful to an angry man as explosive hostility and aggression are to those around an angry man.

 

Jesus didn’t deny or suppress His anger any more than He exploded with rage that day in the Temple. His anger was up-front and out in the open. He responded to the situation quickly, positively, and appropriately. Then He went on with His ministry—without apology, excuse, or remorse.

 Men if you have the tendency to deny your anger and bury it inside yourself, please listen to me. You’re only storing up pressure for a later implosion or explosion. The implosion hurts you; the explosion hurts others. It’s a lose—lose situation. If you don’t bring your anger to the surface and deal with it, someday, somewhere, somehow it’ll express itself in an out of bounds manner.