Monday, October 16, 2017

Healing from Sexual Brokenness




As an adolescent, I was homeschooled part of the time. My mother worked about 30 minutes away from home where my younger brother attended school (not returning home until early evening) and my sister was often at her best friend's house, also homeschooled, about an hour and a half away, so that meant I had a lot of time at home to myself. Cable TV became a great friend through its constant companionship. It wasn't only music videos I adored. I also consumed shows/movies on HBO and other channels that were filled with sexual deviancy. All I did with my time was watch, listen to, think about, and act on perversion. When I wasn't feeding lust in the home, I was acting on lust outside of it. Sex can become a symbol of one's identity and affect every area of life.


Looking back I can clearly see how those choices groomed me for future porn use and a monstrous mindset. I heard one porn star say that so much in her life has been ruined because of sex and unfortunately I find this statement all too accurate. To live for sex and sex only (in all its various forms and outlets) is to gut your life of a special meaning and purpose that can only result when you are in right standing with God and thus in right standing with yourself and others. If sex is your first priority, you will end up making choices that may have disastrous repercussions (not just in terms of your health, but your spiritual vitality, emotional well-being, maturity level, and thought life as well). It will change your life (or maybe a better way of wording it is to say it will take away from your existence).


So much time has been wasted. Hours and months and years just thrown down the drain simply because I lacked accountability, wisdom, healthy friendships, and a real relationship with God.


Please get super serious about your choices and take the time to ponder where your decisions are leading you. Who or what needs your attention that you have been neglecting in order to cater to your sexual fix (daily or hourly)? Do understand and pay attention to the warnings of Scripture regarding unrestrained living. Do make yourself accountable and pursue healing through biblical counseling. Do not delay with examining your heart and do not run away in shame from what you find dwelling there.


Change can happen. Recovery and transformation are real possibilities that many before you have already experienced. My life is proof that there is a God who saves, a Redeemer who rescues, a King who laid down His life for the sake of broken sinners and whose word grants us all we need to live rightly. The Lord has done a mighty work in my life, yet it hasn't been painless, nor consequence-free. Jesus has brought restoration to me in ways I never thought possible, yet the positive changes that have taken place have only occurred in the context of deliberate attention to my brokenness and then enlisting the help of others to help me heal.


"STEP 1.
ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God.
STEP 2.
ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.
STEP 3.
UNDERSTAND the origin, motive, and history of my sin." Brad Hambrick


I still battle the temptation at times to return to my old ways as I remember what a quick fix sexual sin affords its victims. The fine print I am ignoring in those moments is that ungodliness has a price tag, and its cost can be high.


Be wise and learn from the mistakes of others. It would be foolish and illogical to think it's possible to outsmart the law of sowing and reaping. It isn't, my friends. If you all only knew the tears I've cried, the painful ulcer I've had off and on due to the heaviness of guilt and the secrets I've carried, and the countless conversations I've had with my now young adult brother about choices, consequences, living honorably, and taking God's word seriously. If you all only knew everything you are guaranteed to lose when you embark on the self-serving journey of unbridled indulgence! Please take it from me: get help! Confess your sinful choices to the Lord and ask Him to do whatever it takes to intervene in your life and make you a new creation in Him. It is through Jesus alone that your life can head down a totally new path, one that is only possible through an ongoing relationship with Him and the regular application of His word.


Despite the shame you feel and regardless of the humiliation that could result from dealing with the root issues of your sin, do not delay. Do not delay!


True change is possible. I am a work in progress, yet how different is the person I am today from who I once was! The cringe, the horror, really, is how I see the places I've been and the person I became over the course of time when pleasure was my god. Now I serve the true and living God. And even though my sex drive hasn't died and my insecurities sometimes threaten to overtake me, I continue to turn to the Lord and His word for wisdom, guidance, and strength. I continue to choose, day by day, to make myself accountable to the trusted few in my life who never fail to point me to God and His truth, telling me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.


We'd all love to believe that living in a fallen world with endless opportunities to give in to temptation means that we will always "struggle" -- but the word struggle implies a fight, and if each of us were totally honest with ourselves, we too often immediately surrender to the lures around us instead of putting up any sort of fight. We don't even try to have self-control and don't make seeking after God or hourly reading His word a priority. Then we wonder why our lives and minds are filled with wickedness and corruption, despite our want for change."You are only as sick as your secrets", as one quote says. And you will only continue to become worse if you do not actively choose, despite your feelings, to plead with God to bring along everything needed for you to repent and be changed from the inside out.


By committing your life fully to Jesus and making His word your "holy addiction" as someone once said, you are starting the path to true freedom and recovery. A life that is more fulfilling than the passing pleasures of deviant sin. But it is only through Jesus and His word that you will begin to see life, yourself, and sin for what it is. It is only through Jesus and His word that who we are on the inside can truly be refined. Not behavior modification without inward change, but tangible transformation of the mind, heart, affections, and even warped attractions/desires.


God exists. Jesus is worth it. Eternity is real. Our choices matter. Repentance is possible.


Please reach out for help. You can even write to me at EmmaJoyBlog@gmail.com or through the contact form on my blog so we can dialogue about these important matters and I can hopefully offer more practical counsel. Any questions are welcome. And if I don't have the answer, I can at least pray for you, point you to Christ and His word, and offer a list of resources that can aid in your particular struggles.


May you find new life through Jesus and discover the riches of a close walk with Him. A relationship, in fact, that will be the wisest use of your time, the most rewarding call on your life, the most impactful relationship you'll ever experience, and the way to order, beauty, and peace where there was once only chaos, filth, and turmoil.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

How to Steer Clear of Pornography When Intimacy Is Lacking



Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com




"The ultimate pleasure you and I seek is intimacy, and the ultimate intimacy is with God." –Ravi Zacharias




A great need of the human heart is connection. We long to belong, to rest in the fact that we are wanted and appreciated, to bear our hearts to another and still be readily acknowledged.




We may dance in circles, looking for the next thrilling experience in hopes of feeling alive, while settling for what eludes us. We move forward with little direction, often clueless as to what to look for and what to avoid, and in the process, bypass the only true source of acceptance and love (a relationship with the Lord).







We look to sexual gratification (regardless of how illegitimate or dangerous the source), disregard sound judgment and reason, allow our conscience to become seared, turn a deaf ear and blind eye to what is healthy and wholesome, and ignore both the warnings and promises found in God’s word because we wish to pacify our longings in ways we are unfortunately sure to discover will not last or deliver as promised.




Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Why Wishing You Were Someone Else Is Futile





We all have days where we wish we were somebody else. Sometimes the stresses, losses, and unexpected trials of life blindside us and we find ourselves wanting to live someone else's life. This is a dangerous and illogical stance though because there is no telling what is happening in the behind-the-scenes of another person's life. For all you know, others might be wishing they could trade lives with you (despite how tedious your life seems in your own sight).


I've discovered through getting to know at least a handful of people very well that what they often portray on social media, out on the soccer field, or in passing conversation with fellow employees at work is not an accurate or full picture of the entirety of their existence. So much is left out. For example:


  • When you see pictures of a family on vacation, you don't see the terrible argument they got into on the drive to the airport, the health problems in the parents' lives that recently have become much more of a concern, or the pain in each family member's heart as they recall the loss of a beloved grandparent just weeks before. You don't see the father's workaholic ways or the mother's crippling fear of the unknown. All you see is smiling faces and beautiful scenery which stirs up envy in your heart and causes you to believe their lives are more enjoyable than they actually are.

  • When you observe a group of people laughing and having a good time, you don't see the addictions they secretly battle, the childhood trauma still fresh in their minds, or their current circumstances. This could be one of the first times they've laughed heartily in months!

  • When you wonder how that one guy at work always seems to be in a good mood and you envy his ability to make others laugh, you don't see the time years ago that he purposed to begin using humor as a way of coping with a home-life filled with the unexpected due to a family member's mental illness or physical disability.

  • When you notice a woman whose appearance and house are always well-kept, you're not aware that her past was filled with disorder and the lack of beauty and structure during her formative years has greatly influenced her perfectionist ways.

  • When you watch viral videos by well-known YouTubers who have millions of subscribers and a few book deals, you might not think that sometimes he or she wishes they could go back to the safety of anonymity and obscurity when leaving the house for a day of fun and errands brought a sense of freedom and independence instead of their every move being recorded and speculated about on a grand scale through gossip magazines and the array of social media platforms available online.

  • This holiday season, when you see an SUV ahead of you at the intersection with a beautiful Christmas tree hoisted on top (something you could not currently afford), what you don't see is the previous living circumstances and financial strain that prevented them from purchasing a tree for the last five years (even though they really wanted to).

  • ...and lest you conclude that someone else has a more fulfilling life because they have money or travel often, what you don't see is that despite their apparent financial security and opportunity to shop or visit landmarks around the world, they might be utterly devoid of maturity, good character, and rich friendships. They might be insecure or have terrible non-existent relationships with their family. They might be trying to make a name for themselves through impressing others because they don't know their worth through Jesus or find their security and identity in Christ alone.



We are all complicated and complex creatures who have experiences, thoughts, emotions, and feelings others are largely unaware of. Evidence of this is the suicide of someone whom people would never guess struggled with anything life-threatening. Just spending time observing a person's bank account, internet history, or refrigerator will give you glimpses into the sort of person they are that apart from such knowledge, you'd have not a clue of these habits and interests of theirs.


Please don't think that other people are better than you. Sure, they might be better off, but that doesn't mean that this season of life will continue indefinitely in their lives (or yours).


There are things in my own life that I experienced as a child or teen that I am not open about with others. There are sins I have committed, places I have gone, people I have known, hurts that I still carry, and disappointments that sometimes flood my mind with waves of sadness that even those closest to me aren't aware of. I know for certain that my dad and grandmother think highly of me and sometimes I shake my head in disbelief or cringe inside over who I have been and who I am still capable of becoming that would bring them great pain if they only knew. This is proof that who someone is today (and what they have today) isn't a full picture of their life story (past or future). I'd venture to say that what we see on the surface in most people's lives is an edited version of their actual reality. It is the putting of their best foot forward, accentuating the glamorous and hiding the struggles. Shining a spotlight on the few fun or interesting aspects of life while keeping in the dark what is mundane and draining. I say this often but it is worth repeating: You don't know where someone has been or where they are headed. Life can change at anytime. Loss is a guarantee in this fallen world (to one degree or another, to one extent or another).


Our best option is to take responsibility for our own lives, make sure we are in right standing with God and others, build healthy and good habits, set short and long-term goals with action steps we can begin applying immediately, and take care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally through the right means and setting needed and appropriate boundaries. If we are ever seeking to better ourselves and honor God in every facet of our existence, we need not be concerned with the paths of others. We should feel led to pray for the less fortunate and for those who have more...because possessions, prestige, and privilege don't always guarantee a desirable life.


"If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd quickly grab ours back." Unknown

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Importance of Letting Others Know How We Feel About Them






"Hearts are often broken by words left unspoken." Unknown


Relationships come and go in our lives. Some are for a season, while others endure for several. Yet what we say and leave unsaid in those friendships can affect people for years to come.


If there is a person in your life whom you care about, tell them. Let them know you think about them, are concerned for them, enjoy their company, and appreciate their influence in your life. If there are people you are currently missing, send them a note or call them. We'd all love to be the recipient of such acknowledgment, and it won't do any good to leave our concern, respect, or love for another person unknown. It could be just what they've been needing to hear and can propel their day forward with a heightened sense of joy and thankfulness. Who knows what they are going through after all?


"It's a shame to waste an encouraging thought by failing to turn it into an encouraging word." Gaston


It saddens me to think of all the words left unspoken that were they to be said out loud, people could actually heal. A part of them would be restored to health because the truth of how another person sees them was brought to light instead of being left to curiosity, assumption, or hearsay. It's sort of like the concept of telling a person while they are still alive all that we admire, respect, and adore about them instead of saying it to an audience of strangers at their memorial service.


I can't help but think of how much easier the moving-on process would be for both people were they to set time aside for civil dialogue where they acknowledge that despite each person's faults and regardless of the way the situation turned out, there were many good times and each person possessed certain qualities that were drawing and impactful to one degree or another. In dealing with broken relationships, if we were all to say, "Thank you for the lessons learned. I wish you well..." instead of becoming bitter at the person's departure and wishing misery upon them, both parties would walk away with a sense of peace for having handled the conversation in a mature manner.


We are all broken people and sadly remain broken because we aren't proactive and consistent in our pursuit of healing. One way we can heal from relationship troubles is to cultivate good character, own up to our mistakes, and have an attitude of humility. If we are willing to be direct and honest with our words, so much could be accomplished. There wouldn't be anything left to question or assume. You would know exactly what the other person is thinking regarding you and the situation you're both in. And you could therefore use that info in seeking counsel from older, wiser mentors on how you should proceed.


Don't leave important words left unsaid. If you are sorry, apologize. If you miss someone, let them know. If you care about, respect, or love a person, tell them. Honesty and transparency yield a connection that can pave the way to intimacy. And how our lives could change for the better were only we to make our feelings known!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Learning from Loss Instead of Being Defeated by It




The loss of a relationship (or anything important to us) has the potential of revealing the ugly, selfish, and immature parts of our mindset and heart. We may become grumpy, cruel, bitter, or lazy as a means of coping. Our first instinct could be to turn away from God, stop seeking Him altogether, isolate ourselves from others, or delve deeper into sexual sin or other addictions for comfort.


Yet if we can somehow manage to keep our wits about us long enough to see beyond the tears to the bigger picture long-term and humbly ask God to bring to light what went wrong and why, we can more healthily navigate relationships in the future without being blindsided or overcome by disappointment and bewilderment. In having a mature mindset and knowing how to identify red flags, we will be spared much wasted time, thought, and emotion on those who might not be worthy of our full attention.


Being attached to a person and he or she leaving you unexpectedly can be compared to ripping a band-aid off. Because it was all of a sudden, you're going to be in pain! Losing a house, job, or car can bring similar agony.


Sometimes the wound was your own fault. Other times it was an unfair jab from someone else. Regardless, properly attending to it must take place if you are to ever heal properly. The right medicine is needed, plus time and enlisting the assistance of others to help nurse you back to health.


Lessons can be found if you ponder how and when the wound took place. You'll gain insight into what to avoid the next time around and discover how to live in a safer way.


Don't leave any of your wounds untreated. Doing so is to risk infection and the possibility of it being reopened within time.


The solution to our relational hurts is not necessarily to get back the person we have lost, but to move forward armed with lessons and a newfound desire to make better choices the next time we are seeking a potential mate or friendship. You don't have to let the circumstances and losses of life derail or pummel you. You can have a growth mentality and choose to see every good or bad occurrence in your life as an opportunity to change for the better. You can gain control of your emotions through logic and restfully trusting in God's sovereignty. You can use the loss as a stepping stone to maturity if handled appropriately.


Each time you let your mind wander by dwelling on what was, your ability to move forward is inhibited, keeping you stuck in the past. You begin to believe that your former circumstances and relationships were more ideal than they actually were and you begin to long for what (obviously) isn't best for you.


"People tend to see the past better than it was and the present worse than it is." Unknown


Please do not neglect to surround yourself with older, wiser mentors, counselors, friends, and family. You need people who will help you heal and commit to praying with/for you each day. You need words of life spoken to you from outside yourself as your own voice will likely fall short by convincing you that what you had was the best there ever will be...and this is a fallacy.


By prioritizing your relationship with God and keeping the lines of communication open with those you trust who will speak truth to you, I guarantee you will look back one day and actually thank God for His wisdom in removing anyone or anything that He saw fit to take away. As Timothy Keller has said, "God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows." Echoing this reality, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has also stated, "God's will is what we would choose if we knew what God knows."


Let your losses serve a useful purpose. Rejoice in God and praise Him for His abundant mercy in allowing the unexpected for your greater good. What is the alternative? To run from Him and avoid good company because of your tears and confusion? To take matters into your own hands? To rebel and seek your own way? God's ways are best. They may seem excruciating at times, yet an all-knowing, sinless, and perfectly good Being only and always has our best in mind. If we choose to ignore this truth, we are sure to suffer. If we humbly submit to His will and ways, we are safe. Choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

50 Reasons to Be Thankful




"No matter how bad things get, they could always get worse." (A quote from the movie Ever After)


A healthy mindset isn't ours by default. To think rightly, it will take diligent effort, focused training, and ongoing work. We must learn to be grateful, learn to be humble, learn to be positive, learn not to compare, and learn to be content. We also must unlearn the patterns we have formed such as putting ourselves down, zeroing in on the negative in any situation, tearing others down in our minds, or dwelling on anything contrary to the truth presented in Philippians 4: 8. Applying this Scripture moment by moment is the only way to master the unbridled turbulence that takes place in each of our minds.


Life is filled with opportunities to grow. If we find ourselves remaining infantile, it's crucial to take personal responsibility and figure out why exactly we aren't becoming healthier and more whole with the passing of time. Just like a youthful appearance and fit body isn't the result of sporadic diet and exercise but of a specific plan and being consistent, so too must we invite feedback from those who know and love us best and be willing to get on our knees before God with a prayerful heart asking Him to bring to our minds all that is wrong with us. You can't overcome a problem without first identifying it. You can't pursue radical change unless you first understand and can articulate what is radically wrong with you.


"An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly." Tozer


I have found that practicing gratitude is an instant pick-me-up because it serves as a reminder that we all have so much more than we are deserving of.


If we are pessimistic complainers, we will never experience joy. But if we make worship of God our heart's hourly meditation and joyfully delight in the Giver of good things regardless of our circumstances, we start the process of retraining our thoughts and refocusing them on who and what matters most. We can rise above what is going on around us and gain a winsome outlook on life. We begin to see that the smallest of luxuries really aren't small at all. Everything is a gift to be treasured.



In hopes of helping you gain a grateful heart, here is a list of 50 (or more) reasons I am thankful that many of us overlook in our day-to-day lives:


  1. Clean (hot) water to bathe in
  2. Pleasant weather
  3. A good night's rest (and God's forgiveness which is the solution to our guilty conscience)
  4. Air conditioning and ice water
  5. Printers, cell phones, fax machines, scanners
  6. Electricity, working toilets, clean showers
  7. Fresh fruit and vegetables
  8. Fans to bring in cool air at night (and leaving one on while you sleep for the soothing sound)
  9. Cheese grater, potato masher, spaghetti strainer
  10. Envelopes, stamps, pens, paper, crayons, colored pencils, paint/watercolors
  11. The library (having your own library card, using the computers without a fee, enjoying a wealth of resources concerning all different topics)
  12. Trains, planes, automobiles, the bus system (and bus passes)
  13. Thought-provoking quotes
  14. Deep conversations
  15. Record player, radio, video camera
  16. Dining room table and other household furniture
  17. Napkins/paper towels
  18. Juicer, blender, food processor
  19. Vacuum, mop, broom
  20. Clean childhood memories
  21. Every caring adult who made a lasting impact in your life as you grew up
  22. Music and the wide array of melodies found there
  23. Video game and movie soundtracks
  24. Learning to play a musical instrument (or just doing so for fun)
  25. A boring life (read this article to understand why such an existence should be prized!)
  26. The ocean and swimming
  27. Knowing how to read, write, and speak
  28. Balloons
  29. Sunglasses, sunblock
  30. Watching the sunset/sunrise, stargazing
  31. Early morning fog
  32. Seeing squirrels chase each other and hearing birds sing during morning walks
  33. The majesty of thunder and lightning
  34. Roller coasters
  35. Accents
  36. Dental floss, toothpaste, mouthwash
  37. Deodorant
  38. Traditional values, close-knit families, Bible-believing churches
  39. Holding a baby, reading to a child
  40. Candles, incense
  41. Being on the swings at the park
  42. Common courtesy among strangers
  43. Keeping a bouquet of fresh flowers (and some nice plants) in the home at all times
  44. Winter attire, autumn weather, summer outings, spring greenery
  45. Opening windows upon waking to let in fresh air and sunlight
  46. Gallon/sandwich bags, foil, baking sheets, cutting boards
  47. Tweezers, razors
  48. Adding kale or spinach to smoothies
  49. Homemade meals, natural dessert
  50. God's word, prayer, counsel, accountability, mentors

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why I Feel Sorry for Girls Growing Up in Today's Society




I feel many modern girls can be compared to cheap and unhealthy ice cream. They lack substance, are fake, and provide little to no value.


The average girl appears to have been cloned. Her hair, makeup, jewelry, attire, social media practices, Netflix binges, and daily Starbucks order make her blend in instead of stand out. Her knowledge of what is trending, her use of slang terms and hashtags, and the many hours she spends with other girls gossiping or daydreaming about cute guys really amounts to a waste of a life in my opinion.


After years of leftist indoctrination (feminism) and grooming by the culture (anything espoused by the media), she becomes little more than a disposable object and yet seems to be okay with it. Society has convinced her that the loftiest goal she can attain to in life is to be "hot" and sexually appealing (the problem being these are her only goals). She grows to despise traditional values and sadly comes to believe that being a wife and mother is more of a death sentence and what will stifle her freedom rather than seeing such lovely roles as worth pursuing. She is strangely satisfied when a guy asks her to send nude photos of herself because she mistakenly feels "wanted". And she appears to strive for little more than: attention from less-than-worthy men, financial success, and the ability to travel while looking totally cute (on Instagram) in the process.


And lest anyone think I am a bitter, unattractive, or out-of-shape girl who is mad at the world because I have never had male attention or affection, you are wrong. Very much so. These aren't the musings of a rejected or homely woman who has never been in a relationship. They are the sober ponderings of a strong girl who finds the lowered ideals of the culture for females to be disturbing. It is only because of who I once was and whom the Lord is helping me to become that I can clearly see through the emptiness in so many girls' lives. Like a dog chasing its tail and getting nowhere, so too, many girls seek and strive (always busy for fear of missing out) while remaining stagnant and useless.


The good news is that there is a better way. It's called refusing to settle for what society deems worthwhile, living for something bigger than just the here and now, and making God's glory and mankind's good your chief aim in life. This requires being counter-cultural and letting the Bible inform your worldview and guide your decision-making. It requires parting ways with the garbage advertised every minute on most media and across the Internet. It demands humility, selflessness, and strength. It calls for character transformation, surrender to Christ, and a steady intake of God's word. It begs for maturity and a willing heart to do what is best (not what is popular or convenient). It means having respect for yourself by raising your standards and being staunchly opposed to compromising those standards. It means sharpening your mind through reading and learning new skills.


So many benefits await you. After all, purpose, meaning, and depth are far weightier in value than the cheap and fleeting thrills constantly pushed by most entertainment.


Each of our lives has an expiration date (earthly speaking). Even in the midst of your teen years and college experiences you are building your legacy. Do you want to go down in history as a clone or as a unique world-changer? These really are your only two options. One requires little to no effort while the other demands intentionality, careful planning, accountability, structure, and continuous growth. How different will the outcomes be! So much could be lost or gained in the process depending on the path you decide to tread. I challenge you: Spend your life well (and pray the same for me).

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Painful Loss of a Relationship



(I have never been a fan of The Simpsons but found this meme to be fitting)


Breakups can be hard. Friendship or family breakups can be just as troubling (depending on the depth and intimacy of those relationships). To move on from someone we have grown to care about can seem insurmountable at times. We wonder what we are to do with all the memories, all the laughter, all the meaningful talks, all the quality time. We wonder how we can successfully manage to accept that what once was no longer is and move forward in a healthy way. We wonder how we are to continue living with that person or people on our minds often and not end up bitter, resentful, or fearful of getting to know anyone in the future because we don't want to suffer similar loss.


I have lost relationships that were important to me (consecutively over the past few years). Some were unexpected, while others I had a feeling something was coming because immaturity, stubbornness, pride, or a refusal to admit fault and work on his or her issues got in the way of the vitality of our friendship.


It can be very soul-wrenching to be given little to no explanation as to why people move on in a seemingly careless way as if everything we had with them can be easily forgotten. But that is it: Special memories are not easily forgotten (by either person). Heart-to-heart discussions, positive impact, sincere compliments, and genuine care are not easily forgotten. In fact, I'd venture to say such things have made a lasting imprint. They are embedded in our minds long-term precisely because what we had was unique and meaningful.


Honesty in a friendship or relationship is so important. If we do not disclose specific info about ourselves from the very beginning to someone we are getting to know, over time the lie(s) will be found out and disappointment, confusion, and hurt will result (in the lives of both parties). Loss in any form is no fun, especially when you weren't expecting it and were fond of the dishonest person's company. I think that is my problem, friends -- if this can be considered a problem: I care deeply about every person's soul, worldview, and choices to the degree that the loss of a budding friendship can wreck me in big ways. I ponder what could have been and am burdened that they too have lost someone that truly had their best in mind and would have blessed them in ways they couldn't have imagined upon first meeting.


It's ironic isn't it -- the way we all hate being hurt yet can hurt others (knowingly or unknowingly) as if it is somehow justified, okay, or less hurtful to the person on the receiving end because "we have our reasons". To have this mentality is to be blinded to the hurt we've caused by our absence and to straight up ignore the way the loss of our friendship has affected the person who may deeply miss us.


I'd encourage each of us to humble ourselves before God and plead for His intervention over our character flaws, deep-seated issues, and overwhelming feelings of insecurity, fear, worry, and loss. The health of our future relationships and a correct view of ourselves is at stake if we delay.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ten Lies Pop Culture Teaches About Sex




Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com



Right or wrong, our culture teaches us about sex. The media conducts sex education all the time." –Stephen Witmer



Pop culture is a powerful force in society, as it colors our views of social issues, people, relationships, and sexual activity. What we see, read, and hear through the media influences our worldview on these important matters. We need an internal filter, moral compass, and high esteem of God’s word if we are to live rightly and thrive in our relational and sexual lives.



Sex is a topic that we would all do well to treat with care, being intentional to not swallow whole the ideas put forth by the culture. Lies can be found in excess through a secular view of sexuality. How most entertainment presents sexuality cannot do justice to such a profound and meaningful act. Here are ten lies pop culture teaches about sex.






Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Utilizing Time Well






Time. When we think of it in terms of increments (an hour, day, week, month, year, decade), it becomes apparent that it is eluding our grasp quicker than we'd like it to. An adult cannot return to childhood because time has progressed since then, nor can a kid enter adolescence before the natural sequence of time permits. We see time played out in all different scenarios:


- A work day
- A meeting or counseling session
- Classes
- Drive home from work
- The entertainment we consume
- Cooking
- Holding conversations
- Exercise


We are called to "redeem the time," not squander it. And redeeming the time is only possible through goal-setting, planning, structure, and accountability. It involves remembering that we have but one life and every day we are writing our legacy. It entails living for a bigger cause than our own wants and desires and actively seeking to make the world a better place through our presence in it. It includes getting rid of ingrained habits like complaining and instead adopting a mentality of purposeful gratitude and positivity, regardless of how cumbersome our present season of life is. It requires us to examine our lives, spending habits, and the company we keep to see if such things hinder or help our progress in moving forward. It demands we be 100% willing to part ways with what society deems successful (countless hours at work in order to attain worldly treasures at the expense of quality time with our families) and instead look to God's word for wisdom as to what real value is. It calls us to turn from our wicked ways and do what is right (even when we are alone and it seems no one would ever find out). It calls for a new perspective, a proper outlook, a right attitude. It beckons us to return to simplicity and righteousness. It requires we think long-term. Indeed, redeeming the time is all-encompassing. Yet nothing we give up in pursuit of it can compare to the riches and beauty of a life well-spent.


It helps to see life from an eternal perspective. God willing you live until old age -- will you be content and at peace with how you spent your years? To be sure you can confidently say then, "I have used my life for the glory and exaltation of God and the good of others," you must begin doing so now and continue making right choices throughout your life (no excuses). I've found the following to be helpful regarding how I spend time:


- Have a plan for every hour
- Set a timer to get chores done
- Say no to anything that steers your mind toward shallow things and lessens your desire to pursue Christ wholeheartedly
- Seek counsel
- Grow to be responsible
- Learn to manage money
- Practice self-care
- Look for opportunities to serve
- Read remarkable books
- Engage in enriching discussion
- Take walks
- Spend time with the elderly
- Pray


Such choices add to my quality of life (unlike when I sometimes aimlessly view social media which tends to take up more time than I'd like to admit). Having a detailed plan helps ensure time is spent in a way that brings a smile of satisfaction to your face and a feeling of serenity as you ponder all you can accomplish over the course of many decades (God willing). It serves as a useful guide as to what you will agree to and what you will back away from. As the saying goes, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best." What a concept! Choosing what is best above what is convenient, what brings the most impact above settling for mediocrity in our endeavors, and what will profit others and not just ourselves.


When starting a school assignment, working on a project, or writing a book, people tend to make a rough draft, serving the purpose of preparation and making way for action. Yet in the realm of spiritual growth, personal issues, and relationship troubles we are far too often guilty of drifting instead of being intentional with making a rough draft as to guide our next steps toward mending the problems we face.


People settle for mindless entertainment instead of gleaning wisdom through lectures and books. We allow laziness to rule us, make excuses to delay improvement, and do not enlist the help of others. Then we wonder how months have flown by and there is little achievement and growth to show for it. Worse yet, we think we have time and thus don't mind currently wasting it on lesser pursuits than living passionately for the glory of God and making the most of every day we are given. But are catering to self, gaining a variety of experiences, and having fun the ultimate goals of life? Or could a better life await us if only we'd humbly offer God a surrendered heart and pray for wisdom as to what He would like us to do with the one life we've been given?


Whether you live to be one hundred or died tomorrow, who will have their way regarding what you do with your time? Will self reign and the changing tides of culture dictate the choices you make? Or will you give God supremacy of your life and pray that He would change you and then use you in the lives of others so they too can come to know their Creator and the One whose purposes far outweigh in meaning and joy anything we could chase after on our own?


As someone who has made plenty of poor choices in life, I can testify (finally) that living life God's way truly is our best option. Oh, the trouble and wasted time it will spare us! Oh, the regret and sorrow we will avoid! And is not the ultimate purpose of life to know Christ deeply, obey Him regularly, seek His glory above our own, make His name known among the nations, and upon our dying day to then hear the precious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master"?


Surely nothing this world has to offer is worth throwing our lives down the drain (even gradually) and then being separated from God for all eternity because we chose to try and deify ourselves instead of accepting His offer of salvation and giving God His rightful place in our hearts.


It's ironic that, from a worldly perspective, complete submission to God and His word makes it seem like our freedom and independence are being stifled. And yet it is only through being in right standing with Him and living accordingly that we gain true freedom: freedom from people-pleasing, freedom from finding our identity in what can never fully complete us, deliverance from following the norms of culture, freedom to not go along with the crowd for the sake of fitting in. Equally ironic is how prone we are to not even acknowledge God until life hurts and we have exhausted all other resources.


So why delay? Why not get on your face before God this very hour and acknowledge you cannot live rightly or flourish as He intended without Him being Lord and Master of your life? Why not ask for His help and guidance in making a complete turnaround in the way you live? Take it from me: There is nothing like an intimate walk with God. Nothing compares to knowing Him (knowing about Him is very different). And I say this not as one promoting the concept of self-fulfillment because of what God can do for us, but as one who realizes how indebted we are to our Maker and sees the need to orchestrate my life and choices in accordance with His word because He is worthy. It is the King of kings and Lord of lords we are dealing with here. How foolish of us to regard Him as anything less.


"Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." C. T. Studd

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When Common Sense Is Lacking in Dating





By Henry Cloud


It’s amazing how many people throw common sense out the window when it comes to dating and marriage. You would never invite a stranger off the street into your house and give him or her the keys and full access to all you own. But in matters of the heart, people do that every day. With little or no background checks, they give their heart, soul and very lives. Because it is "love," it seems to fall under different rules. "If it feels so good, it has to be right." Nothing could be further from the truth. Things can feel very good, and be oh-so-bad.


The best defenses against this happening are your own character, maturity, time and trusted friends to give you wise counsel. Don’t go from nothing with a person to giving him or her all of you without the proper process. Basic due diligence is required, but it takes longer than your hormones or fantasies may want it to go.


Go one phase at a time, and don’t rush it! If it is good, real and true, it will make it through all the phases. This is the only way good fruit is ever produced, by going through all the phases of growth. You can’t have a good tree in a minute. But if you grow it the right way, including taking time, you will know the true character of the person you are with.


Give the person time, and give each phase its time as well. It will pay off in the bad relationships you avoid – and the good ones you find.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

6 Lessons on Relationships that Animated Movies Teach Your Children


Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com








"The earliest messages are often the longest-lasting messages. Charles Spurgeon said that the voices of childhood echo throughout life so that 'The first learned is generally the last forgotten.' This can be a tremendous blessing when truth is taught early and when it sinks in deep. […] But this same principle can prove troublesome when the first lessons learned are poor ones, because those lessons are hard to correct and harder still to erase." –Tim Challies


Animated movies can be very fun to watch. They often bring quality family time and quotable humor. However, it can be easy to forget that even cartoons set forth a specific worldview that can shape a person’s view of beauty, relationships, and love for years to come. Whether subliminally or bluntly, the films teach lessons that may clash with the principles parents seek to instill in their kids during their formative years.


Children are impressionable and will likely emulate with their siblings or peers what they see modeled in interactions between movie characters. If stubbornness, rebellion, disrespect, laziness, or pride are exhibited, kids will think this is acceptable behavior or a normal way of being. When paired with catchy songs, dazzling apparel, or thrilling adventures, they will be all the more likely will to act out or think in a similar way as the characters they observe.


Romantic relationships frequently pop up as major plot points. Almost always close to idyllic, the relationship usually ends with a "happily ever after." Practically everybody knows that this is exaggerated fantasy with no real world correspondence. However, this fills young and impressionable minds with lofty ideas and unrealistic expectations because they have not lived long enough to understand the flaws of human nature and the conflicting wills that arise in a joint union.



Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...