Rebellion Invites Distaster

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. 1 Peter 1:13-15 MSG

The Bible means precisely what it says. God’s commandments are not offered as helpful hints or timely tips. God’s commandments are not suggestions; they are ironclad rules for living, rules that we disobey at our own risk.

The English clergyman Thomas Fuller observed, ‘He does not believe who does not live according to his beliefs.’ These words are most certainly true. We may proclaim our beliefs to our hearts’ content, but our proclamations will mean nothing’to others or to ourselves’unless we accompany our words with deeds that match. The sermons that we live are far more compelling than the ones we preach.

So today, do whatever you can to ensure that your thoughts and your deeds are pleasing to your Creator. Because you will, at some point in the future, be called to account for your actions. And the future may be sooner than you think.

The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience’doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride’from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God. C. S. Lewis

If I were asked to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.’ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

We all make messes in our lives through ignorance of God’s way. Joyce Meyer

Obedience is the outward expression of your love of God. Henry Blackaby

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. Deuteronomy 13:4 NIV

Character builder
Be honest with yourself as you consider ways that you have, in the last few days, disobeyed God. Then, think about specific ways that you can be more obedient today.

Culture Of Castaways

Steve Arterburn

Remember the Tom Hanks movie Castaway? It’s about a FedEx executive who’s plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean as he’s on his way to unclog a shipping artery in some remote part of the world. Chuck Noland’played by Hanks’survives the crash. He’s miraculously washed ashore on to a deserted Pacific island where he spends five years in utter isolation’losing touch with his loved ones and forever changing the course of his life.

 

For many men, this sounds uncomfortably familiar. That’s because the lack of communication and connection among men has created’metaphorically speaking’a culture of spiritual castaways.

 

The number one dilemma facing Christian men today is isolation. Today, more than perhaps any other time in history, American men feel emotionally and relationally isolated. Sure, most have friends and lead busy lives. But as a general condition, men aren’t connected to one another in any deep and meaningful way.

 

Yet every man feels, deep down, a longing to be known, loved, and valued as a friend by other men. Men want and need close friends, but our inability to be vulnerable with each other creates our’isolation.’ Men who wouldn’t think twice about risking in business or sports have enormous difficulty taking risks to expose what’s inside their souls.

 

Men, today I challenge you to recognize your need to be valued by other men, and seek an opportunity to connect with a friend on a deeper level.

Three Great Loves

Steve Arterburn

Let me suggest three things that every father can focus on today’and everyday’that are mandatory for accomplishing God’s purposes in the lives of your children.

 

First, fathers must love God. The only way you can be assured your child will learn the most important truths in life’truths about living with faith, obedience, and joy as a follower of Jesus’is knowing those truths yourself and assuming the responsibility for teaching them to your children. You can’t give what you yourself don’t possess.

Second, fathers must love their own fathers. I know for many men that’s a tall order’and often for very good reasons. Nonetheless, being a good father means being a loving son. If your father hasn’t, can’t, or won’t provide the love you need from him, you must get it from God Himself. Fathers must find healing for their own broken hearts to prevent breaking the hearts of their children.

Third, fathers must love their wives. Parenting is a partnership. And nothing will embitter children more than living with a mother who’s been turned resentful by the callous affections of their father.

If you as a father will set your hearts on these three loves, all the other details of raising children will work themselves out.

Shouldering Her Weaknesses

Steve Arterburn

What baggage does your wife carry? She’s surely no more immune than you. Therefore, she may be burdened from any number of traumatic events in her past.

 

Are you allowing for your wife’s weakness, loving her for who she is today, and not for who she might be at some point down the line? Sure, you may be shocked and dismayed at the weaknesses in your wife that were hidden until marriage exposed them. Maybe she comes from an abusive and dysfunctional background. Maybe she isn’t a very strong Christian. Maybe she was even promiscuous before she met you.

Any of these things may be true. But some other important things are true as well. Your wife did forsake her individual freedom in taking you as her husband, believing you would provide love and strength for her. Your wife is still God’s little lamb, regardless of the pain she’s been through and the wounds she carries. Don’t forget: God has entrusted her to you. Will you resent her? Or does your heart warm at the task of restoration? Is there any nobler act than pouring out your mercy on your precious bride?

Men, relate with your spouse based upon who she is today. Not upon what you want her to be. So what if she isn’t who she should be today? Are you? Besides, it’s not important that she becomes everything you expect. It’s important that she becomes like Christ. Impart to her the same grace, mercy and strength that Christ imparts to you.

Fatherless Boys And Angry Men

Stephen Arterburn

Over the last century, America’s undergone tremendous changes including what employment opportunities are available to us today, where and how we live, and how families relate and function’both internally and with others.

How have these changes affected us as men? Well, one important way is that it’s systematically distanced sons from their fathers. In fact, it’s become clear to experts that a primary source of the seething undercurrent of anger pervading much of the male population results from the diminishing influence of the father in a man’s life. Recent studies have shown less than 1 percent of males have or have had a close relationship with their fathers. Many men cannot remember their dads touching them affectionately, or telling them, ‘I love you.’

Men are often not very emotional, but if you want to see a man get that way in a hurry, ask him about his dad. A large number of adult males today have grown up virtually without their fathers, and they’re profoundly hurt and angry because of it.

Why? What’s happened to create this problem? The problem, of course, cannot be reduced to one factor alone. Yet neither is it a total mystery. The last century has seen the American male’s role change, and the role of fatherhood has suffered for it. Over the next several days I’ll be explaining how this happened and what it’s caused. I hope you’ll tune in.

Two Kinds Of Fathers

Stephen Arterburn

Experience has shown us that the men who are happiest and most content in their masculine role today are those whose fathers invested time and energy in their lives. These dads may have worked outside the home, as the vast majority of fathers in our society today do. But their priorities were in the right place. They were committed in principle, and found concrete ways to maintain a positive, nurturing relationship with their sons. These fathers helped their sons discern and nurture their individual talents, and supported them in their chosen careers. They identified their sons’ strengths and weaknesses and addressed them accordingly. They attempted to understand their sons’ unique ambitions, and appreciated their achievements. In short, these fathers helped their sons become men. And as a result of their investments, their sons are among the most well-adjusted and peaceful husbands and fathers in our society.

However, men with these kinds of dads are in the minority today. Most men are struggling to recover from relationships with fathers who failed to nurture, affirm, and validate them at the most fundamental level. Their fathers have left these men a legacy of pain, confusion, frustration, anxiety, bitterness, fear, and anger. These adult sons are often the angry men of our society.

Friend, which description best fits your situation? Are you reaping the benefits of a committed, invested father, or struggling to overcome a sonship that has left you a wounded and angry man? If it’s the latter, won’t you take steps to get some help?

Don’t stay stuck there.

Maintaining Focus

Has it ever been easier or more convenient than now for a believer to lose focus on God? If the apostle Paul found himself ‘greatly distressed’ that Athens was ‘full of idols’ (Acts 17:16), what would he think after checking out today’s culture? The Internet alone is overwhelming.

A recent Wall Street Journal article quotes an Internet guru who plugged the word ‘God’ into a popular search engine. He received 600,000 responses remarkably close to the 775,000 sites listed for ‘sex.’ Yahoo Inc. lists 17,000 sites devoted to religion and spirituality, compared with 12,000 about movies and 600 about home and garden.

And these figures are expanding exponentially. We’re only a mouse click away from countless links, Web pages, and chat rooms, that define God, redefine Him, recast Him into our own image, or explain Him away altogether.

With all this at our fingertips, it’s more important than ever to stay focused on the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We can’t allow ourselves to be sidetracked by falsehoods or temptations that will prove destructive to our faith.

The writer to the Hebrews called this ‘fixing our thoughts’ and ‘fixing our eyes.’ ‘Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess’let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 3:1; 12:2).

The old adage is true; the eyes are a window to the soul. So what things will your eyes let into your soul today? It’s your call. You get to decide to be the strong, self-disciplined person you know you want to be, or let your eyes lead you to places that you know deep down you don’t want to go. Focus.

Finances and Recovery

Bob Damrau, MS, LPC

How would you answer the question, ‘Am I doing all I can in my recovery today?’ If you strongly respond in the affirmative, then skip down to the closing paragraph’you are probably due a reward. On the other hand, if you find yourself reframing the question”Am I doing what others perceive as my trying (whether or not it is the most I can do)?’ Then read on’you are probably struggling to maintain sobriety. I pray these thoughts will help.

Intention, no matter how good, misleads an individual to think he is on the right path when he really is not. Personal finance is an area that is not openly discussed; yet most acting out behaviors take money. Without this resource a sexually compulsive man can not purchase the means to feed his addiction. But expanding recovery behaviors around finances can play a large role in the journey to health.

Just think of the full amount your acting out behaviors cost you. The purchase of pornography, phone sex and prostitutes constitutes a direct type of expense. But don’t overlook the indirect costs like guilt offerings, (remember the stone Kobe Bryant bought his wife) legal fees, and child support. If you add the time lost while acting out, as an earning opportunity, the overall cost is phenomenal. One member of a therapy group estimated his cost to be half a million dollars!

Now, using adjusted thinking to put the most into your recovery let me suggest two proactive paths for your journey. First, set up financial accountability with a peer in recovery. Here are some suggestions:

‘ Only use checks or a credit card and have your accountability partner review the bank or credit company statement each month

‘ Disclose to both your spouse (if married) and accountability partner all sources of your income

‘ Delete any hiding places for extra cash

‘ Do not carry much cash with you

Being open and honest with your financials could save your sobriety. Second, budget for recovery by establishing a line item in your planned expenditures. Things to consider can include:

‘ Counseling for individual, group and/or couples therapy

‘ Literature to gain understanding of sexual addiction and stay abreast of sobriety techniques

‘ Workshops for support and connection with the larger recovering community

‘ Giving to help others in their journey of recovery

You spent money on the illness. Why not use your resources, now, for your health?

Doing whatever it takes with your finances will kick your structure into high gear. The money you both earn and save will be a blessing as you will be able to reward your sobriety with appropriate gifts at significant milestones. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, ‘God (has given) us richly all things to enjoy’ (1 Timothy 6:17). Are you doing the best you can today for Him today?

For more help please see Every Man\’s Battle.
And if you are married, please join us for our next New Life Weekend with your spouse.

Persistence & 'Programs'

Jonathan Daugherty

How many times in the last week (or day’or hour) have you felt like giving up? Have you been tired, frustrated, or beaten down by life or addiction? What are the answers to your sexual acting out, and how can they possibly be implemented?

For those of us who struggle with sexual sin, ours is a daily battle with temptation. Our culture is becoming increasingly saturated with sexual images and innuendos. Pornography is a booming business and growing exponentially through the ever expanding Internet universe. Marriages keep breaking up due to “irreconcilable differences” or sexual infidelities. How can we curb such rampant impurity and lead a life that is pleasing to God?

Many in today’s culture (and even churches) would be quick to shove a “program of healing” in your face and spout, “Just do this and you will be fine.” This is the modern day equivalent of the old doctor’s quip, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” We have become a society engrossed with programs to “heal” every ailment. We even have 12-step programs for compulsive fingernail biters! (Ok, maybe we haven’t digressed that far, but we’re well on our way.)

Does this mean all ‘programs’ are bad? Of course not. Are most programs useless? Not hardly. But if programs, in and of themselves, were effective, don’t you think we would see higher rates of ‘success’ from those who implement them? The answer should logically be yes. Then why are we not seeing a larger number of people in “recovery programs” finding long-term freedom from their compulsive behaviors?

I believe the answer is found in one word: persistence.

The Bible speaks of perseverance (or persistence) as endurance. The Greek translation for endure is hupomeno and has the connotation of “staying under” or “remaining.” Jesus used this word when He spoke in Mark 13:13 and said, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Does that type of long-term vision describe the attitude of our culture today? Hardly! We become impatient and frustrated when a candy bar doesn’t fall from the vending machine in less than 2 seconds. We have severely lost our willingness to endure and persist. Thus, the increased reliance on “programs” alone to remedy our every addiction.

Programs can be useful (such as our EMB workshops), but ONLY when coupled with persistence and relationship. When we persist, or endure, we are engaging in the hard work of “staying under” the leadership and accountability of another person (as it pertains to recovery). Persistence is most interested in the process, recognizing that enduring is not always clean, neat, glamorous, or “perfect.”

We persist because we understand the greater good of “remaining” until the work is complete. Persistence means I will not bail out no matter how intense the pressure is to quit.

Programs are oftentimes primarily interested in outward conduct. Are you “doing” the right things? Are you following each step correctly? And programs can often turn a person away to work on their issue alone, isolated from others. This is why so many people will start a solid program only to find themselves shortly afterward abandoning it as they spiral further into their shame and addiction. We need other people to help us maintain focus when it comes to fighting compulsive behaviors; not a list of rules.

One last note on persisting – it is NOT easy! In fact, one of the sub-definitions for the Greek word for endurance is “suffer.” Sticking to something and not giving up are character qualities that test our resolve at the core of our being. It requires increasing our threshold for emotional discomfort and developing habits of righteousness that lead us to the One who can “bear our burdens.” Jesus is our ultimate example of persistence. He is the “author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of God the Father.” Jesus “remained” where God wanted Him and provided us with freedom from our afflictions.

I challenge you today to adopt a new outlook on your personal journey of purity. Instead of seeing the mountain of potential failure spots in front of you, focus on the wonderful Savior who fully bore all your sin, shame, and guilt on the cross and said, “It is finished.” Let Him be your primary motivation for persisting and connecting.

6 Renewable Resources for your Recovery

New Life Ministries

1. Time: We never feel like we have enough, yet one day turns into a week, turns into a month. Take the first step by setting a short term goal, and do it today. Do not put off till tomorrow’ .

2. Work: God has put you in the work or ministry you are in to serve his purposes. Begin each day by asking ‘What Lord would you have me do today’?

3. Possessions: Learn to hold on loosely to the things of this world, or they will hold on to you. Another question you can ask, ‘What Lord, would you have me to do with this possession?’ It isn’t wrong to have things, it begins to cause trouble when the things have us.

4. Insights: When God gives us insight, it allows us to develop discernment. Don’t ignore it! Write it down or share it with someone. Ask God how he wants you to use your insight to help others, or yourself.

5. Relationships: Sometimes we think others exist to serve us or our purposes. Even if we don’t say it out loud, we experience self-centeredness from time to time. Pray that God will bless your relationships that they would serve to bring him glory.

6. ‘Chance’ meetings: Sometimes we dread meeting new people; parties and potlucks hold us captive to our fear of not measuring up. Begin to look for the opportunity that God provides for his purposes. Connection doesn’t happen without our cooperation.


Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries