When I was 13 years old, I was involved in an accident that left me with some structural issues and chronic pain.
Several years later a doctor told me if I could work on strengthening the muscles around my back, core, and joints, it would provide some relief from the pain I was experiencing. In an attempt to do so, I actually ended up making things worse. I didn’t understand my limitations and in fear of making things even worse, I just stopped trying altogether.
God recently opened a door for me to try again, but this time I’m working with experienced and knowledgeable coaches who are giving advice specific to me, my body, and my goals.
This reminded me of how often I hear of my friends and colleagues who are coaches talk about the importance of having their own coach. Not only does it help you stay focused and intentional in your own life, but if you are a coach, then it’s helping you experience coaching skills that you can incorporate into your own coaching! One friend said, “When I started my first business I didn’t have anyone mentoring me. Now that I’m starting my 12th business, I have two coaches!”
She went on to share that when you look at people who are professionals and masters in their field, you will often learn of a mentor, coach, or trainer who has been supporting or guiding them along the way. They understand that to be successful, they need to receive the wisdom of others—not just general wisdom, but wisdom that uncovers where they are now and where they want to go and and guides them on how to bridge the gap for their specific situation.
When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”
Who is speaking into your specific situation? What areas are you trying to go it alone? If you don’t have an answer, it might be time to get a coach!
Note: Original article was written for CCNI’s President Message at ChristianCoaches.com . Visit their website to learn how to find a coach . . . or how to become a coach.
About Guest Blogger, Jenny Karr
Jenny Karr has been at Tailored Fundraising since 2013 and is now the Coaching Manager and Executive Coach. With a passion to train, equip, and support people in ministry, she has worked with hundreds of Christian missionaries and leaders on healthy and effective ways of building a partnership team.
Outside of Tailored, she is the 2019 President of Christian Coaches Network International, providing education, resources, and community to Christians seeking to grow or strengthen their coaching skills.
In Jenny’s personal life you’ll find her spending quality time with her husband and teenage daughter in and around their home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Most churches report that their highest attendance takes place at their Christmas and Easter services. While many of the kids who joined you for VBS and fall festival may have gone missing-in-action in-between, there’s a good chance they will turn up at Christmas if you give them a little nudge. So why not put together a fun outreach event this Christmas?
Start Planning Early
It’s never too early to start your planning for Christmas outreach, or any outreach event, for that matter. In fact, the best time to start planning for next Christmas is right after this Christmas! The earlier you decide on your theme, the better. You will then have more time to gather resources, ask around for well-loved items that you can re-use and take advantage store coupons and discounts. As you are preparing, executing, and evaluating this year’s event, take note of ideas that: you would have shelved, of what went well and what didn’t, and of what you wish you had done differently. Write them all down before you forget! They are all helpful tips for next Christmas!
Don’t Do It All Alone
Rather than doing everything yourself, invite others to join in your preparation and in running the event. Chances are you will end up doing a much better job at planning, promoting and executing your event as a team. Perhaps more importantly, you will have more people praying alongside you for the event.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, but that doesn’t mean the theme for your outreach must be limited to the nativity scene or Bethlehem. Just google “birthday party themes,” and you will find lots of fun ideas, ranging from “under the sea” to “up, up and away!” Why should Jesus’ birthday celebration be any different? With some out-of-the-box thinking and creativity, there is no reason why we can’t think up a fun theme for our Christmas event – one that honors Christ and that kids would love to join in!
Ride on What’s Trending
One good way to get people excited about your event is to ride on the buzz of what’s currently trending. Find out what child-friendly movies will be released around Christmas and plan an event related to that movie. For example, Spies in Disguise is to be released in December 2019. The world is facing a disaster and counting on the nerdy Walter Beckett along with his partner Lance Sterling, (whom he accidentally turned into a pigeon), to come to its rescue. While not knowing much else about the movie, you can still plan an event with fun games involving heroes saving the world. Think spies, gadgets, and birds, and wrap it up with a Gospel presentation about Jesus Christ, the true Savior of the world! Alternatively, if you are uncomfortable basing your event on too many unknowns, plan an event based on a more well-known movie. Perhaps a film like Star Wars, which incidentally has another planned release in December 2019: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
Or Stick to Something Traditional
If you prefer something more traditional, below are three themes you may like.
1. The Greatest Christmas Gift
Play a variety of games involving gifts. For example:
Pile Up the Presents – Players stack presents to form the tallest tower.
Elf Challenge – Whoever carries the most gifts across the room wins.
Oven Mitt Unwrap –Try your hand at unwrapping a Christmas present while wearing a pair of oven mitts.
Christmas Left Right Game – A story is read aloud, and the parcel gets passed to the left or right as directed by the story.
Detailed instructions for these and other delightfully fun Christmas games can be found here.
To wrap up the event, bring out a huge, eye-catching gift-wrapped box for an object lesson on why Jesus is the greatest Christmas gift.
2. Twas the Night Before Christmas
Written almost 200 years ago, “Twas The Night Before Christmas” remains the most popular Christmas poem ever. Many of our ideas about Santa Claus, for example, how he enters homes on Christmas eve through the chimney with a sack of gifts, originate from that poem.
Sadly, Santa Claus and Christmas trees have overtaken the nativity scene as symbols of Christmas, and “happy holidays” is becoming more commonly heard than “merry Christmas.” Recent surveys show that, although most people in the United States still celebrate Christmas, it has become more of a cultural holiday rather than a religious one.
Rather than sweeping Santa and the Christmas tree under the carpet, why not throw a party involving these popular festive icons before bringing up the true story of Christmas?
You can play a variety of games involving these Christmas symbols. For example:
Christmas Bingo – Featuring colorful festive illustrations of the nativity scene, baby Jesus, the wise men, Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and more!
Who Has The Ornament? – Don’t get caught with the ornament in your hands! Players sit in a circle and pass a Christmas ornament around behind their backs while someone standing in the center of the circle tries to guess where the ornament is.
Christmas Tree Dress Up – Use paper and other materials to transform a teammate into a Christmas tree.
You can find detailed instructions and download beautifully designed free printables here to play these and other Christmas games.
Christmas Party Scavenger Hunt – If you are playing indoors or with a large group of young children, you may like this version of a Scavenger Hunt. Instead of hunting for physical objects, players look for 40 Hidden Cards.
Christmas Scavenger Hunt Bingo – Combine the fun of Scavenger Hunt with Bingo! Each player gets a unique Christmas Scavenger Hunt Bingo Card and hunts for items found on their own card. The first player to Bingo wins!
Christmas Treasure Hunt – Just like the Magi followed clues that eventually led them to baby Jesus, players will look for various clues that ultimately lead them to the Christmas treasure.
Detailed instructions along with beautifully designed free printables for these scavenger hunts can be found here.
Keep Christ at the Center of Christmas
It is important that every child goes home with a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. You can do this by giving each child The True Story of Christmas Animated Tract at the closing of your event. It’s an affordable stocking stuffer and unique Gospel tract. It has captivating, moving animations, and kids will be intrigued by how the images can move without any batteries. Or buy any small gift and pack them in this YOU Are The Reason For Christmas! Box-Tract that opens up to reveal the gospel message.
Christmas is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar for outreach. Remember to keep Christ at the center of your event, and also at the center of your preparations. Pray, pray, pray! Christ loves all the little children of the world, and he wants to see your event draw the little ones to Him!
Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of two websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.
LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively. BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.
Sometimes we as God’s children have moments and seasons of inspiration in our journey through life. But God never allows any of us to stay in the cloud of motivation because we have a world filled with valleys we need to face and be channels of Christ-like love to others who are very needy even when we are suffering and facing challenges. Keep in mind always that it is the low times of life (during your suffering, pain, trials, and mundane experiences) when you must learn to live best for the glory of Jesus Christ.
As a disciple of Christ, you are His light, regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Chapters 38–41 were a learning season for Job in interacting with God—and also a tremendous refreshing season after so much pain and havoc. Why had God been silent for so long as Job remained swamped with so much inaccuracy?
Do you realize that God’s silence is often a special privilege for some of you since it means that our Savior has trusted you with His silence, which will bring Him glory? Remember the story of Lazarus and his sisters—all were friends of Jesus, as recorded in John 11. In John 11:4–7 it is registered regarding hearing that Lazarus was very sick, “When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’”
Why was God silent for so long with this family in their time of need? Jesus was allowing them to be a part of one of the most significant miracles in the New Testament. Jesus had so much confidence with this family’s faith that He did nothing for a few days and said nothing. The Lord revealed heavenly blessing in His silence when God was keeping quiet and merely observing. It takes a shameless audacity in our love for God for Him to trust us enough with His silence.
Likewise, God had listened enough to the conversations between Job and the men who had gathered with him. The servant Job was swamped with gross innuendos and speculations that were far from the truth. But guess what—even Job did not always see clearly as evidenced by some of his statements that fell short of the mark. God helped to open the eyes of Job by asking him over sixty direct questions that Job could not answer, causing him to be genuinely amazed and stunned. Through this questioning encounter, Job received a dose of “revelation sense.” In Job 12:7–10 Job had indicated that animals could be a source of unraveling the “suffering mysteries” he had faced. The questions by God now focused on His creation and handiwork, and these were holy moments for Job. Indeed, the servant of the Lord was standing on “holy ground” in these chapters.
Rudy Morgan, Ph.D., DPC
Author & Church Planter
Cambria Heights Church of the Nazarene
Why did God invent the church? Scholars have advanced various ideas. My own thinking goes back to the very beginning, and it builds on the way Jesus most often referred to God: as Father.
I have sometimes considered developing what I call a “theology of fun,” based on the idea that God created the universe just for the fun of it. Certainly nobody could force God to create! But I think there must be more to it.
Let’s start at the beginning. Not Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created. . . .I want to get behind that, to why God created. To do that we have to look at God himself.
How many ways can you think of that God is described in the Bible? God is great, God is just, God is holy, God is good, God is merciful. God is our refuge and strength and salvation. God is a spirit and a consuming fire. All these are descriptions of God. But one verse is not a description, it’s an equation. 1 John 4:8 says, God is love.Love is God’s essence. It’s who God is.
What is the greatest characteristic of love? Love wants to share. It’s a relationship. Love must be shared, or it isn’t love.
Since eternity, God has shared love in the Trinity. One of the most basic understandings of Christianity is that there is only one God, but this one God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (who came to earth as Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Without this community of divine persons to share love, God could not be love.
God, who is love, has been sharing love since eternity. But God’s love is not only eternal, it’s infinite. It’s overflowing. God’s love wanted to overflow the Trinity.
What provides the greatest opportunity for an ongoing expression of love? A family – different personalities living together, adapting to each other, adjusting to each other, caring for each other, putting each other first. A family creates infinite possibilities for love. So God decided to create a family to share his love, with God and with each other.
God could have created us so that we had no choice but to love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. God could force us to act like we love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. Love is only real if it is freely given. God wanted to share real love. So God gave us free will.
Unfortunately, our free will doesn’t just give us the opportunity to freely love God. It gives us the opportunity to cause a lot of trouble as well. We see this in the very first human beings God created.
Adam and Eve shared love with God for a time. Genesis 3 implies that God used to enjoy walking with them in the Garden of Eden. But one day they exercised their free will to disobey God, and that time of innocent family fellowship was broken.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9
God experienced the heartbreak of a father whose children turn against him and get lost in the world. Adam and Eve’s disobedience broke up God’s family. The whole rest of the Bible records God’s plan throughout history to bring his children back.
For a while God tried to relate to the whole growing human race, but they turned from God and became so wicked that God had to destroy them all in Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-8). He tried again with Noah’s descendants, but instead of trusting God, they built a tower and put their trust in it. They were unified, but not in God. To keep it from happening again, God confused their language, and the human race scattered across the earth (Genesis 11).
So God changed strategies. He decided to relate in a special way to one group of people, who would get to know and love him. Then they could invite the rest of the world into God’s family. God chose the children of Abraham, the nation-family known as the Hebrews, Israel, or the Jews.
King Solomon understood. He prayed at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem that all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do (2 Chronicles 6:33).
God’s desire has always been to live among his people. When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God told Moses, Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them (Exodus 25:8).
When the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land and started living in houses, God approved David’s plan to build a house where God could live. It was called the Temple, and God filled it with his presence (2 Chronicles 6:1). For the next thousand years, a series of temples in Jerusalem were the focus of God living among his people.
Unfortunately, somewhere between Solomon and Jesus the Hebrews lost their understanding of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. They forgot God chose them as messengers to invite the whole world into his family. Instead, they began to believe God chose them to be the only members of his family. Instead of welcoming other nations, they scorned them.
So God started again, with Jesus. But this time membership in the family wasn’t by genes but by choice. The Bible says, Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children (Romans 9:8). “The children of the promise” are the church.
The church – all people, of Jewish or non-Jewish descent, who put their faith in Jesus – is now the family of God. And our loving Father has commanded us to bring as many people into the family as will accept the invitation. When we do that, we become the fulfillment of God’s desire to live among his people. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16). Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).
God so longs to live among his people that when we die, God takes us to live with him until the end of time. And at the end of time, when everything is put the way God wants it, where will God live? With his people.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” – Revelation 21:3
God is not looking for a place to live in. He has that in heaven. God is longing for a group of people to live with. God’s plan in creating human beings was that we would be his family. Fulfilling that plan is what the church is all about.
Like any father, God desires a home where he can rest and be himself. Like any father, God desires to raise up children who will be like him. And because God is the ultimate and infinite Father, God desires for his children to bring other people to become part of God’s family – ideally, every other person in the world!
These three desires of God show us the three purposes of the church.
First, the church exists to create a loving family home where God can rest and be himself. Arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place (2 Chronicles 6:41). The way we do this is traditionally called worship.
Second, the church exists to raise God’s children to be like their heavenly father. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children (Ephesians 5:1). The way we do this is traditionally called discipleship.
Third, the church exists to equip God’s children to bring other people into God’s family. Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The way we do this is traditionally called evangelism.
Everything we do as a local church – in fact, everything we do as Christians – should contribute to fulfilling one or more of these three purposes. How does your church stack up? Top of Form
The above is taken from the first chapter of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts, by David Wentz. A comprehensive, theologically and culturally neutral compendium of practical options and best practices for being a pastor and leading a church, Pastoring is being used in pastor training courses in Africa and Asia as well as the US. It is available in print or e-book at www.books2read.com/pastoring. Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation.
About guest blogger David Wentz:
Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.
Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.
Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.
David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.
In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.
His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)
As believers, we make a choice to follow God whole-heartedly . . . or a little. This is not a judgment but a sad reality. Some choose to believe and then live according to God’s way, while others also choose to believe but then live their own way. This breaks the heart of God.
“I, the LORD, am your God who brought you up from the land of Egypt, Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice; And Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart. To walk in their own devices. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways. I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries. . . . But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat; and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Ps 81:10-14, 16 NKJV
Like Israel, some will not listen or obey God but choose their own way. Yes, they believe and have accepted Christ as Savior, but they have not made Him LORD of their life; instead, they choose to live as they wish. How much He wants to lead them, bless and deliver them, fight their battles and give them victory. He desires to give them His finest and satisfy their souls with amazing ways. YET to those who rebel by choosing their own way, He gives them over to their own devices. He says in essence, “You want your way? Fine, that’s what you will have” and stays the hand of God on their behalf.
God will not force anyone; we have a free will and can choose to rebel and disobey, to live as we please. But how we miss God’s BEST, God’s BLESSINGS, His DELIVERANCE and His VICTORIES (see Psalm 81:12).
WHAT IS OUR END WHEN WE GO OUR OWN WAY AND REJECT GOD’S? (See 1 Cor 3:10-15) Our faith gets us into heaven (fire insurance), yet where is the life lived in victory? Where is the reward of pleasing God and one day hearing “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21)? Where are the rewards given for right living? “Our works will be judged by fire” if they were “wood, hay and stubble” (worthless) . . . nothing will be left (1 Cor 3:12). “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved” (1 Cor 3:15).
Hear the tender heart of God and “let there be no strange god among you”; don’t choose anything else, like pleasures and distractions of this world, as your god. Return to Him. Stop living as the world does and begin to live God’s way. Distinguish yourself as different, as His.
About guest blogger Doris Homan
Doris has a passion for discipleship. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, blogger and author of The Christian Journey, Parts I & II. Doris’ mission is to help Christians know the Word and apply it so they are better able to navigate both the calm waters and the storms of life. She is on the leadership team of Reasons for Hope*Jesus and Greater Impact Ministries, in the capacity of ecourse mentoring, content development, editing, and distribution. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, she and her husband John now reside in Florida. Myjoyandcrown.com and facebook.com/theChristianJourney2017
Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authentic heart…[T]he authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (New International Version). Considering his long-term ministry, which included tortures, stonings, illness, starvation and imprisonment, among others (see 1 Thessalonians 1:21-17 for a list of sufferings he endured), this is a remarkable conviction to hold.
I think Paul was able to write this way because he understood 1) the impact of the Gospel in his life and 2) the measure of commitment it takes to follow Jesus with full devotion.
Unfortunately, the understanding that Paul displays, I think, escapes most who promote the Christian faith. For the most part, our devotion stops at our carnal natures. For some “would-be” Christians, pride in what they know (or think they know) about Christ, rather than esteem for Christ Himself blinds them from the Truth of the Gospel. Others ascribe to the notion of being a “good person,” considering this a mark of salvation. Still others justify sinful living, excusing themselves because they hold to a Christian (or “Christian-esque”) worldview. Instead of coming to the Throne Room of Christ in humility, too often we take snippets of the Truth and cut and paste them however we see fit, reducing Jesus to a caricature and discipleship to a formula.
Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authentic heart in Philippians 1. This cost is rarely communicated and more rarely accepted. Regardless, the authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus and commit to the following:
This is not something that our western world wants to believe. Quite the opposite actually. We are bombarded with messages about how we are due what is owed us or how we should hold to our individual rights. The problem arises when we hold to these values, and then confronted by Christ–who commands His disciples to deny our very lives to follow Him (see Luke 9:23-24)–we are required to surrender, to succumb.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:2-4 (NIV),
We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
We must remember that Christianity is not about making Jesus our Lord and Saviour. It is acknowledging the Lordship of Christ over us and surrendering to His Will, and giving up rights to our own. Surrender is God’s call to the sinner, a call that Michael Beck states is “to those who are still fighting His rule.” Yet, the believer’s life is one that reflects surrender by “put[ting] up no residual battle once we have fully accepted the reality of the Holy Spirit’s control,” (P. C. Walker).
Where surrender is to succumb to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, submission is our allegiant response to it.
For many in our society, submission is a negative term, denoting some kind of tyrannical force is at play. Rather, to submit under Christ is to concede willfully to Him, while remaining free to rebel just the same. Submission is the call to the saint to obey even when logic, emotion or the empirical counteract.
In short, understanding submission as obedience when it doesn’t make sense can be summed up in one word thematic in Hebrews 11–“faith”. Faith to obey in the goodness of God is a choice that bears much fruit. For beginning believers, submitting in obedience will be harder than for those who have walked with the Lord for longer. This is because, as we become more familiar with the goodness and loving character of God, the experience we gain is something on which we can rely. Therefore, submitting under God’s rule becomes more natural.
Submission is a requisite of the surrendered life. For by submission, we are moving toward holiness and away from rebellion. It is functional faith–the doing of our belief in Christ as Lord.
Once more, the words of Paul chime, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV).
The sacrifice is the most humble method of worship as it is the giving up of something valuable in order to give worth to something else. To worship anything is to proclaim its worth (worship = worthship). This is certainly a call of the believer and it is certainly not without cost.
The authentic disciple will learn to live sacrificially, esteeming Jesus Christ above all, whether materials, relationships, beliefs, even principles. Living sacrificially does not necessitate that we forfeit such things. However, we are called to value Christ to the point where we would forfeit materials, relationships, etc. in light of the worth Christ has in our lives (see Matthew 10:37-39). A simple way to know how much worth we ascribe to Christ is by evaluating our willingness to forfeit all other things we hold dear in exchange for Him.
One thing, in my experience, that makes western Christians squirm is the biblical calling to suffer, as Paul continues in Philippians 1. He states, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV).
Suffering is to lay down our own well-being or self-interest in order to bring God glory.
A. W. Tozer once regarded sanctification (the process of becoming godly) as suffering:
In human experience [the self] is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus, and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.
Yes, the call to suffer for Christ involves the continuing pain of exposed sin and repentance. As the Holy Spirit convicts us, we must learn to relinquish those things that we have worshiped, loved and on which we have become dependent that take God’s place as Lord. These could be the things as mentioned above, but also the carnal patterns in our lives that God regards rebellion.
We are called to remove these things that have become normal in our lives. When they are removed abruptly, it is as unsettling as a sliver removed from under the skin. But this is the suffering that occurs when we are committed to godly living.
It is when we are responsive to suffer in this way that we can take on the suffering as stated in 1 Peter 4:1-2 NIV:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Weighing the Cost
We as Christians must weigh the cost of our life under Christ’s rule by consider the 4 S’s: Surrender, Submission, Sacrifice, and Suffering. For when we weigh these things, others can truly know where our allegiance lies and will not wait for us to confirm nor deny our position with God. It will be clear by our lives that the Gospel has impacted us and that our response is to follow Jesus with full devotion.
About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger
Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.
Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.
I meant my marriage vows I made the day my wife and I were married. But somewhere along the way I fell into lust and porn.
I think most of us know what God said in the beginning: “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:22-24).
Marriage means one man and one woman together for as long as they both shall live. The marriage vows we commonly hear say, “I take thee, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance.”
I knew when I got married that I was pledging to be faithful to my wife. To love only her. To never betray her. To be her one and only and have her as my one and only.
But then lust and porn began to consume me. But unlike my relationship with my wife, those habits never met my needs. Desires were never satisfied. Lust always wanted more. The person who is addicted to pornography can spend hours looking at image after image, because none of those images will ever be enough. There is always a longing to see just one more.
My wife could not understand how I could proclaim that my looking at porn was really not about her. She was correct in that by looking at porn I was betraying her and going against our wedding vows. But none of the women I saw were good enough. It’s not that my wife is not attractive or desirable. It’s that lust is an animal that is always hungry and always wants just a little bit more.
I have written a book about my experience. In it I use the example of the person who is thirsty and in an effort to quench their thirst, they drink seawater. They can drink gallon after gallon and their thirst will only increase. That’s how it is with porn and lust. Looking at porn does not satisfy our desires; rather it heightens and increases them.
Only true, genuine love in a committed marriage relationship can satisfy and bring real joy. I’ve discovered that now. My wife and I have been married for over 40 years. Her skin may not be as smooth as it was on our wedding day, but she is more beautiful than ever in my eyes. I have traded the many for one.
No pornographic image can ever be enough for the person who is seeking a high. But one partner is plenty for the spouse who has learned what our Creator intended from the beginning. When Adam looked at Eve, he saw his dream come true. She was a gift from the Father. She was, as the Lord stated, “A helper suitable for him.”
I deeply regret the time I wasted seeking fulfillment and excitement in all the wrong places. How mistaken I was! Pornography could never fill the hole in my soul. Not in a million years! Only the Lord can meet my deepest longings. And He is the one who placed a human being in my life to be my very best friend and companion. The one I love and cherish. The one who, with His help, will remain by my side until death do us part.
My book, JESUS IS BETTER THAN PORN: How I Confessed my Addiction to My Wife and Found a New Life, is available at Amazon.