In Control and In Perspective

Last Sunday, we saw in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 that God’s people are to control their bodies (sexually), unlike the world, who doesn’t know God and lives out of control (again, sexually). We also saw that there are consequences for living “out of control”.

It didn’t take long for the issue to be in the news again, proving the truth of God’s Word. Jared Fogle, the famous Subway spokesman who dropped a ton of weight eating their submarine sandwiches, topped that crazy story by being accused of sexual activity with minors and being in possession of child pornography. Aside from the lives of children that have been ruined, think of the damage Jared has done to himself because he didn’t control his sinful sexual appetites. Worth 15 million dollars and the face of a franchise, he has lost his job, his wife, his 2 children, his reputation, and is heading to prison. Was it worth it? Reeling from that news, we were hit with the Josh Dugger accusation of having two profiles on a website designed to help people cheat on their spouse. Out of control. Destructive.

The church is not exempt from the dangers of sexual immorality, either. We must guard ourselves or else destroy our families, our reputation, or our testimony for Christ.

And I also want to caution on buying into some of the popular church teaching that good sex is the key to a good marriage. Yes, sexual fulfillment is meant to be enjoyed, yes it is meant to be apart of the oneness of marriage, but sometimes the teaching from the church creeps into the territory of “sex is the main event”. The way I have heard some preachers preach on sex, you would think sex is the main reason to get married. That’s not good.

Why the caution? We love to hit the extreme side of the spectrum. I grew up in church and always believed sex was a bad thing by the way it was talked about. That’s a wrong presentation. But if we jump to the other side, the “sex is ultimate”, the side of “good sex = good marriage”, we can end up concluding on that extreme side of the spectrum that “no good sex = no good marriage”. It puts eros (the Greek word for love that means “passion”) over agape (the Greek word for love that means “your needs over my needs”). In other words, physical intimacy becomes the focus instead of self-sacrificing, “lay my life down for you” love. If some physical anomaly resulted in a husband and wife unable to have relations, does that mean the marriage is over? Does that scenario justify marital breakdown and sexual immorality? “If I can’t have sex, what good is the marriage?” Whoa, wait a second, do you truly love your spouse or do you just love what they can do for you?

I’m not being some hyper-prude. Yes, enjoy your spouse. But make sure the physical intimacy is an overflow of the oneness that comes from the highest love. Don’t buy the world’s propaganda that the physical act is the highest priority over everything. Agape over eros.

p.s. - not a hyper-prude, or even a calm prude

New Feature! Question of the Week!

Because we didn't get to cover everyone's questions on Q&A Day (December 28), we will feature "Question of the Week" for our blogs! That's fun, right?

Same rules:

  1. I will answer what I understand is being asked, and...
  2. I will give the short answer. 

On to where we left off Sunday...

Since the Bible says clearly to love each other, if I am struggling with loving someone and asking God to fill me with love for that person, and am not quite there, should I just fake it or is there Biblically a way to handle this another way? One end feels like hypocrisy and the other disobedience.

I understand. You know the Bible says to love others, but you just aren’t feeling it with this person, so it can feel fake.

Good news: Love is a choice. There are different words for “love” in the Greek language (in which the Bible was written). One word is erosthat is hubba-hubba husband and wife love. Phileo is friendship love - affection you have for your BFF that you don’t have for the stranger in line behind you at Target. But the love of God, that He calls us to, is agape. That is choosing to love, choosing to put the other person’s need ahead of your own, self-sacrificing love. So you can choose to love someone even if you don’t feel like it by making choices to show love through your actions. As I heard James MacDonald say: Feelings are a lousy engine but a great caboose. You don't let your feelings lead you! But feelings do have a way of catching up when you are committed to making choices that honor God.

p.s. - phileo is where we get "Philadelphia" - city of brotherly love, it's called. Ironic, huh?

"Do I Love My Spouse?" - Take a quick test and find out

This weekend at Harvest, we are looking toward the homestead as we examine Colossians 3:18-21. As you prepare to receive the Word, as the Lord tells us to (James 1:21), here is a quick test for husbands and wives.

Men, do you love your wives? Ladies, do you love your husbands? Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God, and 1 John 4:8 tells us God is love. So if we are imitators of God, we will see His love in us, right?

 What does love look like? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says:

Love is patient
and kind;
love does not envy
or boast;
it is not arrogant
or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable
or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth. 

Love bears all things, 
believes all things,
hopes all things, 
endures all things.

So here is the test: If you put your name in place of the word / pronoun / implied love, would the passage make sense? Would it read true? 

Go slow, do one at a time and really examine yourself. Try it, your name goes in the blank:

________ is patient.

________ is kind.

________ does not envy.

________ does not boast.

________ is not arrogant.

________ is not rude.

________ does not insist on getting his/her own way.

________ is not irritable.

________ is not resentful.

________ does not rejoice at wrongdoing.

________ rejoices with the truth. 

________ bears all things.

________ believes all things.

________ hopes all things.

________ endures all things.

How did you do? I am sure we all see areas where the Lord, by His grace, is still growing us! And let's be thankful that He is going to finish what He started in us...

p.s. - do polar bears hibernate during the summer?

God’s Provision to Get Us Through a Hard World

You’ve been there. I have. I wish I could tell you we won’t be there again, but before today ends, before the week ends, before the month ends, eventually we find ourselves back there. That place where we wonder how am I going to get through this?

Maybe you are facing an illness. Worse yet, maybe your child is. Maybe it is a financial struggle. Perhaps it is a prodigal child. Or it could be the loss of your job. It may be a loved one is very close to passing away. How am I going to make it through this?

Last blog, we had a reality check: we are fallen people (but in Christ redeemed!) living in a world under a curse, surrounded by other sinful people, and Satan himself is called the god of this world (until Christ returns to take it back).

I wish it were different, but the sad reality is that we live in a world where bad news, tragedy, heartache, and pain are the norm… we should expect these things. Jesus even promised in John 16:33: In the world you will have tribulation.

Bad news, just deal with it right? Wrong.

Jesus ALSO said, right before the previous statement: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.

So peace is found in Him. But what are these things He spoke to the disciples (and us) that deliver this peace? Apparently, Jesus said some things specifically for the purpose of showing us how we have peace in Him. So what are they?

Jesus made this statement at the end John 16, an extended teaching that began in John 13. Starting there, we find in this portion of Scripture at least five different things God is providing to get us through a hard world.

The first one is


John 13:34-35 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

God has given us each other. That’s great news.

I don’t know about you, but I can easily recognize and readily acknowledge the impact my brothers in the Lord have on me. When I am discouraged, they encourage. When I am down, they pick me up. When I am overwhelmed, they come alongside and help. And I try to do the same for them.

Not just trying to be a buddy, but loving each other. And not just loving each other, but loving as Jesus has loved us.Selflessly, fully, perfectly. And when the world see us loving each other that way, their response will be, “Those people must be true followers of Jesus.”

It’s sad when I hear people make comments like, “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” That’s not only a statement from immaturity, but it’s a statement of someone who is missing out. Missing the blessing of peace that comes from knowing: yes, life is hard; yes, bad news is around every corner; yes, we live in a world of suffering…but we are not alone. We are in a team…no, a family, who loves us with the love of Christ.

So when life gets hard, we can say, “Bring it. Check out the people who got my back. God Himself provided them. So... bring it.”

Thank you, God, for your provision of people to count on. May I be one to them, too. 

p.s. - learning to love like Jesus loved